Traditional grading practices have bothered me for a long time as a writing and reading teacher. I hated how much students worried about them, focusing on the grade more than the work itself, and I hated how they got in the way of the kind of relationships I wanted to build with the readers and writers in my class. For several years I worked to deemphasize grades, but I didn’t think I was doing enough. As a result, this past spring and summer, I started thinking more seriously about what steps I could take to implement the features of a gradeless classroom in a school that uses a traditional grading scale and an online gradebook.
Over the summer I did a lot of reading and other work related to this, and from all of this, I put together a plan that incorporated many of these ideas yet would still work within our school’s current grading system. The hardest decision for me was what to do with our school’s online gradebook.
As I typed up this plan, I found an article by Tiffany Brents entitled “Going Gradeless: Creating an Action Plan” to be a huge help as I organized my thoughts and decided what to include. Some elements of the plan are the same as what I’ve done before, while others are brand new.
I shared this document with our school’s curriculum director, and we had a great meeting before the school year started. It was good to feel support for what I wanted to try and was helpful to get another perspective on things. I also shared the document with the other 7th and 8th grade teachers and a couple other English teachers. The conversations that have already been sparked as a result have been awesome. I left our teacher work days so excited by the ways we had already started collaborating on how to make school better for our students.
Since I found Brents’ article so helpful, I thought I would also share the document I created as a result. I hope it might be helpful to others who are creating similar plans for their classes. You can view my plan here.