Is It Truly About the Learning?

Sometimes I just need to remember that I am the luckiest girl in the world. Why? I have a non-educator husband that will sit and listen so patiently while I go on and on about my passion to make a difference, passion for the whole child, differentiation, advocating for these children, using technology, and the latest…homework and giving grades! I’m really on a roll this week.  All that time at TCEA has my brain super charged. 🙂

What I realized tonight was that I never give him credit for inspiring me to act on some of these passions.  So, here is your credit Christiaan. (Although, he is not on social media and does not even read my blog, so he will not even see this!) He does this in the way that he does everything, very soft spoken, and matter-of-fact. 
As we were finishing dinner our daughter excused herself and I was telling my husband about the recent intense discussion she and I had about homework. Then, I read a timely tweet about grading that got an out loud AMEN!  Here it is. Thank you John Wink for your honest thoughts. 🙂
This resonated with me because of the conversation my daughter and I had earlier, the same conversation that I seem to have every year with other educators, and the same conversation that I hear other parents talking about.
It’s about the LEARNING, not the grade!  
This gets tricky because where we know this is exactly true, teachers are still required to give grades. What they give these grades on is up to their discretion. I struggle with the thought that we can give 5-10 questions and think this truly is the whole picture.  At the same time, we do not need 5 stories and 58 questions to get the picture either.
I think what has me torn as a parent/educator is the learning part.  If we just mark an answer wrong, slap a number grade on it and send it back, does the child really learn anything?   Not usually. What is the big picture?  What is the point of any classwork?  To LEARN and the go use it!  So if it is to learn, does it make a difference if the child asks the teacher, “I know I can do better.  I know this.  Can I study some more and show you again I can master this?”  Absolutely, in my opinion. If they can, LET THEM! We want them to grow up taking risks, speaking up for themselves, failing, and knowing how to get up to change the situation.  We want them to learn.  That’s our responsibility as educators.
I was so proud of my husband because as I went on about this passion he calmly said, “The learning is the important part, not the grade. It’s just like those referees in Sofie’s basketball games. The good ones teach the kids and explain why they blew the whistle and the ball went to the other team. They are not just calling a foul and not explaining why it was a foul to the child staring up at them unsure as to why the game stopped.” I sat there shocked and said, “YES! That’s it.  It’s about teaching and helping them grow.”  He chuckled and said, “There’s your blog.”  So here I am……
I am just wondering – why is it that as teachers we are required to give number grades and give homework (that many times is not even given a second glance) yet we stress that it is the learning that matters?  If that is truly the case, which we all feel it is, let’s place importance on that and let the kids show they know the content as well as give feedback that helps them understand it if they don’t. Our end goal is not to have kids make 100s and get Commended on a STAAR test (although we would celebrate these achievements!).  Our end goal is to raise learners that are inspired to continue learning beyond our classroom!