Whose problem is it if my electronic grade book is not up to date?
I mean that to say, if I do not put in the grades that students rightfully earn in a “timely fashion” is it wrong for their grade to drastically change in a matter of minutes this close to finals? Is it unfair to them?
I think back to my own experience, not knowing what my grade was until the end, not having 24/7 access to my grades and not having the ability to tell if a teacher had graded an assignment. My position was always to “do my best” and to keep track of generally where I was in the grade spectrum. We got our progress reports or midterm grades, but I guess fear of not ending up with the grade I wanted made me try my best on every assignment.
I know that is just me, and others were blindsided by bad (or good) news, even to the point of not caring about figuring out their general grade because it was too much work, or they just didn’t care.
I guess it is because I feel that the responsibility for student grades falls on me and not the student that I am writing this. It is the busiest time of the year, and yet, if I forget to put in a grade that a student earned, it is my fault and it is not fair to the student if I put it in and it drops their grade. I end up feeling guilty for factoring THEIR work into THEIR grade. This type of emphasis on the teacher keeping the grades updated does encourage student engagement in the grading process (and keeping track of their progress), and it is nice to be done with grading when the last assignment goes in, but I feel that in many ways, it encourages students to point to the teacher if there is a problem with their grades. (i.e.- if I would have known sooner, I could have worked harder…studied more, etc.)
I guess this is a bit of a rant, and I don’t mean to sound like I am against keeping grades up to date. I believe students should take ownership, I believe that the idea of electronic grade books is good. I believe that as a teacher, I should keep my grades up to date, even though it is a lot of work because it helps students be successful. It keeps families in the loop. Sometimes, though, it puts a lot of emphasis on me as the teacher. Timely feedback vs. time available, that is the name of the game. I have students refreshing their online grade book right after they turn in their quiz, hoping that somehow, I have graded it in the 5 seconds since they turned it in.
In times like this, I often think of the quote that I read once, it said, “there is no substitution for quality instruction”. Part of quality instruction is meaningful feedback. Perhaps I need to assign less work and spend more time giving better feedback. Half as many column in the grade book, but twice as much meaning in the grade… Perhaps I should be leveraging the grade book as a tool for students. Steer them away from the question, “what is the minimum that I have to do to get/maintain my 70%”, and toward questions like, “what can I do to get to that 90% from the 86% that I have”.
Help students maximize their potential, not minimize their effort.
Maybe this online grade book can be useful after all…