Rookie Year: Day 20 Or Getting My Act Together

I finally explained the Standards Based Grading (SBG) system that I would be using to my students today. I know that sounds crazy because it’s day 20 and I am just now explaining quizzes. This is certainly later than I had planned to talk to them about my overall grading philosophy. There were a lot of factors that brought about this timeline. The biggest was simply me being absolutely overwhelmed as a first year high school teacher. My system that I use for my college students wasn’t going to work. I had department, school, district, and state level policies to not only understand but be in compliance with. The first unit was review and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to include it in my list of concepts. I wasn’t sure about what my list of concepts would be. The day to day lesson planning and work took up all of my attention. As I wrote in a previous post, school really took me by surprise and I’ve been trying to get on my feet ever since.

So today I gave a quiz and explained how SBG would work. If you have never heard of SBG, Frank Noschese’s post does a great job of explaining the idea behind it. For my class currently because of policies that I have to align with it will look like quizzes over a list of concepts that students can initiate re-assessment on if they provide documentation (tutoring hours and initial practice) that they have attempted to work on improving on those concepts. Daily classwork and homework, graded on effort and completion rather than accuracy, as well as Unit Tests written by the department will also be a part of their grade. Again, it has taken me a while to get this set up because I had to figure out how to fit my own grading practices into school practices already in place. The grades are also calculated on a total points system rather than by a certain percentage breakdown.

I am not sure if my students really understood the idea behind SBG today or how the quizzes and re-assessment will work. Before I had even administered the quiz, a student asked when they could schedule their reassessment because “they knew they were going to fail it”. They also asked me again immediately after turning it in. Clearly I have a lot of progress to make with my classes.

Even though I have become much more disciplined than I used to be when I was a student, I can’t shake this flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants feeling that usually comes with procrastination. I hope this is coming from teaching this class for the first time and not just teaching in general. Probably both, I don’t know.

Well, I have some quizzes to grade.

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