I really don’t.
Grades say that a number is more important than learning. Grades motivate students to cheat because the knowledge isn’t as important as the letter. Grades say, “I’m only average.” Grades say, “I’m better than everyone else.”
The last couple weeks of school, I usually have enough “grades” in the book that I don’t worry about recording any more. In fact, I like to do this at the end of each quarter. It’s that moment when I’m free from “grades” where I feel like I see if kids can learn. I’m not pressured to enter a grade.
This week, I’ve seen a boy respond politely to another student yelling at him in a soccer game. I listened as a boy wondered, “I wonder if the Christians realized Saul was telling the truth when the Jews were also persecuting him.” I laughed as three boys fought over holding the door.
For me, seeing character growth, seeing thoughtful processing, seeing kindness, this is my success as a teacher.
In math today, I handed them calculators and gave them word problems. I said, “I don’t care if you know the math. I need to see if you know the process.” Isn’t that life? It’s not the answer, it’s the process.
I look back and there are 100 things I’d do differently to be a better teacher, but none of them has to do with grades.