Weekly Reflections – when grades get in the way…

Over the last week I’ve been conferencing with the students over their term 4 writing assessment. With the results still in moderation, I wasn’t all that keen to share the level with my students. Nevertheless, I was keen to give the kids some formative feedback of areas that went all and areas to work on.

For the most part the conversations went well. Most of my students were able to identify an area of strength as well as an area to work on. There has been some fantastic improvements from some of my students and what was more fantastic is that the kids themselves could talk about what has been going well for them.

This positivity all came to a grinding halt as I conferenced with one student who seemed distracted and agitated during the conference. 

Eventually I asked if there was a problem.

“When are you going to tell me what I got?” was the reply.

I was disheartened but instead of going on a long rant, I asked the student how getting the numbers would help improve the quality of their writing.

And then it started, the academic pecking order. If I’ve done better than my friend, then I know I’ve done well. I’ve spent a lot of time in class talking with my students about why feedback is important, why test scores aren’t a measure of who they are, just a snapshot in time.

However that urge to compare, to make yourself feel better, often at the expense of others, is so ingrained.

I doubt my feedback made much of difference that day.

2 thoughts on “Weekly Reflections – when grades get in the way…

Add yours

  1. It’s interesting how students label themselves and need that pecking order. I think it may be worse at secondary school where students will say ‘I’m an Achieved student’ or Merit or hopefully excellence. But they label themselves and then can use it as an excuse for not doing better.
    I’m sure your feedback does make a huge difference and the need for the numbers is in addition to your feedback rather than ‘instead of’.
    Your blogging is fantastic – your honesty makes it very real, and useful.


  2. I am feeling the same frustrations at the moment as well. Don’t be disheartened! There may be one of the bunch who still aren’t quite hearing what you’re saying, but many of the others will.
    Your feedback would have made a difference for all students involved that day. You may not feel it (and I know you probably won’t because I often feel that way when a student says something like that) but as Marilyn Velvin said, the need for the number is in addition to your feedback rather than ‘instead of’.
    Us teachers are always so hard on ourselves! It sounds like you are doing an amazing job! You keep my head screwed on Stephanie. It is so nice to hear that other people have hard days like that too. Teachers don’t all like sounding incompetent and sharing things like this. But in truth, we all have days like this!


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