Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Grades and Comments

I have spent the last two hours entering grades, a mind-numbing and depressing process, if I do say so myself. I entered teaching just as districts began switching to online gradebook systems, so I don't know what it used to be like. I do know that my student's grades would have been a lot less accurate if they would have had to depend on me and my math skills. The online gradebook systems that I have used are all fairly similar, and at the end of the grading period you enter comments, along with the grades, that will then appear on the report card. The comments are pre-set, which makes perfect sense, since I always wish that I could say what I really think, and that is most likely not the best option in the long run.

Pre-set comments usually consist of things like:
  • not working to potential
  • missing assignments
  • inconsistent work quality
  • absences affecting achievement
  • disruptive influence in class
  • does not manage time well
  • motivation and effort vary
But these pre-set comments simply don't capture what is actually taking place in my classroom. I need comments like:
  • sleeps in class - even standing up
  • has senioritis, and this sophomore level class will prevent them from graduating unless something dramatic clicks very soon
  • flirting is interfering with his/her learning as well as the learning of every other male/female in the room
  • comes back to class late after lunch, usually scarfing down the last scraps of a McDonald's lunch 
  • completely and utterly unmotivated to do anything at all for any reason... ever... including impending shark attacks
  • has to sit in the hallway most days for being disrespectful or rude
  • calls me racist because I tell him to stop talking 
  • has the maturity level of a 6th grader
I have realized that we as teachers create our own "teacher code" that makes perfect sense to us, but may not make sense to anyone else. Let me tell you what we are actually trying to say with those comments.
  • not working to potential - actually means "your kid is smart, but ridiculously lazy...they could probably get an A if they tried even once in a while"
  • missing assignments - actually means "seriously, your kid never turns in anything, even when I beg and plead"
  • inconsistent work quality - actually means "I see flashes of brilliance and then sheer apathy....but mostly apathy"
  • absences affecting achievement - actually means "maybe if you stopped keeping your kid home when they claim their 'stomach hurts' or taking off for three months for a family vacation to Samoa, your kid would pass this class. As it is, they never make up any of that missing work and then wonder why they aren't passing."
  • disruptive influence in class - actually means "I am considering quitting this profession because your child makes me want to rip off my own arm and beat them to death with it."
  • does not manage time well - actually means "two words: lazy and unfocused
  • motivation and effort vary - actually means "lazy unless you have yelled at them the night before"
I often wish I could be far more direct, but we live in a culture that doesn't really respect that as much as we claim and a culture in which we have been told "you can do anything" so much that we actually believe we deserve special treatment.

1 comment:

Itsalltrue said...

Funny stuff and very true. We at least can now customize some comments but I've yet to tell the real truth as you have it here.
And hey, check out my blog about teaching in DC: