From the Teach.com blog –January 16, 2018
For most of us, grades were always a part of school. Work was assigned, it was completed, and we were given a score reflective of our efforts and understandings. At regular intervals, these scores were compiled and sent home on report cards to inform our parents or guardians of our progress.
Over time, grades have become a ritual of the educational process that most students, parents, teachers, and administrators have come to expect as a measuring stick of progress and achievement.
Recently, there has been growing support for removing grades from the educational landscape altogether. Instead of A’s and F’s or 100s and 0s, there have been pushes for more authentic evaluative criteria like standards-based proficiency or relying exclusively on descriptive feedback. It makes sense; successfully facilitating a growth mindset in students involves assessment styles tied to more intrinsically relevant experiences than arbitrary numerical scales.
For all the merits of the no-grade argument, the reality for most districts is that simply abandoning grades altogether is a difficult proposition. For better or worse, parents know from their own experiences what grades are; there are entrenched expectations about their importance and the messages they imply.
On a logistical level, schools have policies about extra-curricular participation tied to specific grade qualifications. Colleges and employers still ask about things like GPA and class rank when evaluating candidates.
In response, some schools have adjusted the traditional grading model with a modified numerical scale that starts at 50% rather than 0%. In doing so, stakeholders still receive the quantifiable progress indicators of grades, but it changes the entire conversation about student agency in earning them.
Read more at the Teach.com blog: The Implications of Grading Without Zeros
From the outset of my teaching career, integrating technology into my lessons has remained a constant priority. Whether it was piloting SmartBoards in a district elementary school, using iPads to digitize workflows, or making the switch to Chromebooks, technology has been at the forefront of how I prepare and deliver content to students.
In the first half of my decade in the classroom, being “the technology guy” meant that students engaged with content in a totally unique way in my room compared to the classrooms of my more analog-focused peers. The bells and whistles of screens, interactivity, and digital customization opened doors to a creative and unique pedagogical world that I was able to capitalize on to promote student interest and growth.
Fast-forward to today. The ubiquity of technology has transcended the novelty. For one thing, many of my students now carry phones in their pockets that are more powerful than the computer on my desk. In many schools, Chromebooks and iPads are now looked at as common educational tools – similarly to how we used to look at textbooks and binders.
Ever in search of ways to recapture the magic once created by technology in the classroom, I have turned to an unlikely medium for drawing students in: good, old-fashioned paper. What’s more, it has worked!
It turns out, there are several, research-backed reasons why working in the physical space needs to remain a part of today’s pedagogy.
From: Teach.com – October 18, 2017 –
More than ever, teachers are called to justify their practice and their decision-making inside the classroom. Whether it is from administrators, parents, or the public, today’s teachers feel the pressure that comes from an increased professional scrutiny. It doesn’t help that the public perception of the teaching profession is increasingly shaped by negative media coverage.
Failing to bear this weight can lead to frustration, decreased job satisfaction, and even full-blown burnout.
What this means is that it falls to teachers to take the reins to close the gap between the perceptions and realities of what is happening in our respective classrooms. Designing classroom structures and workflows that are more transparent helps demonstrate to stakeholders just how much great, innovative work is taking place in the service of student growth.
Read more at Teach.com: How to Increase Classroom Transparency
Teaching is, by nature, a collaborative and community-driven profession. Over the past few decades or so, this need for professional teamwork has evolved into the concept of Personal Learning Networks (PLNs).
While the PLN moniker itself has a foggy origin, it is generally accepted to mean a group of colleagues and fellow educators that can turn to each other for professional support, advice, and discussion. These communities share useful information, best practices, and moral support in an effort to grow both as educators and as active learners.
In the digital age, this PLN concept has taken on a new life as educators from around the globe can now collaborate and share with each other. Creating a digital PLN is a tremendous way to improve your teaching practice. What’s more, it’s easier to get started than you might think!
The concept of teacher burnout is nothing new. However, much of the discussion surrounding teacher burnout focuses on new teachers that wind up making a quick exit from the profession.
The reality is, only a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of teachers who leave teaching each year are novices. Veteran teachers too, it turns out, are quite susceptible to burnout . Each year, a growing percentage of the nation’s experienced teachers are voluntarily leaving the classroom.