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Showing posts from July, 2017

School Leader Chat, Part 1: Grades

I chatted with Martin Moran about shifting mindsets around grades and what this means for teacher PD. Martin is a Lead Designer at the Bennett Day School in Chicago, IL and will be opening their new high school as the Director of the Upper School. Previously, he taught high school for over 10 years.

This is Part 1 of our conversation where we talk about grades. In Part 2, we will talk about how to train teachers in effective feedback.
How did you develop your philosophy around grades?My goal is to undermine the whole concept of grades. I saw the impact that grades had on kids. It was damaging to all kids, both the ones who were successful with grades and the ones who were not successful with grades. The kids who were successful were obsessed with and derived their self-worth from the numbers, and the kids who were not successful thought they weren’t smart, not because they weren’t intelligent, but because their intelligence wasn’t reflected this grade-based system.

Grades aren’t just dam…

Back-to-School: Consider Your Feedback System, Not Grading System

One question I ask other teachers is “How important is feedback in learning?” Every teacher I talk to agrees that feedback is crucial. It’s how both teacher and student gets better. Research backs the importance of feedback; building off of John Hattie’s work comparing factors on learning, Evidence for Learning’s toolkit ranks feedback as having the highest impact out of their 34 approaches (along with meta-cognition) with a +8 months’ impact on students’ learning progress.

I follow the feedback question with “How important are grades in learning?” It might seem like a loaded question. You can imagine how teachers respond: “They’re not.”

Why give grades, then? We’ll save that topic for another occasion. For now, I just want to point out that we are frequently asked to consider and describe our grading system by students, parents, colleagues, and administrators. We’re rarely asked about the much bigger and more important component of our work: feedback.


With back-to-school quickly approac…