swim, chem, baseball, I talk with my hands
I could never have imagined the transformation of the past 15 months, which sounds hyperbolic (I know). My last post from mid-2021 presaged a career-altering pivot that has led me through a portal of self-examination and rebirth. No, really – hear me out. Why did I get into the business of teaching? Why did I step into that first classroom over 30 years ago, emerging that first day covered in white chalk with the biggest grin on my face? Well, I had this idea that I wanted to connect with students and help them understand a bit about the world.
Somewhere along the way, I realized I wasn’t that “great” at this job. Sure, I had enthusiasm, and some students and colleagues liked me, and I kept being re-hired to do the same position, but that isn’t a very high bar in a profession that leaks competent professionals. I grew an ego and thought that how I operated was effective: I had data to prove my point.
What led to my reboot? Well, the pandemic hit first, and I was going to quit or do something completely different because what I was doing wasn’t going to work. I also realized that I am white: a privileged white man in a world where I have always had advantages. There’s something freeing about telling the truth and being willing to move ahead with eyes open. So now the question is this: do I have the courage to move ahead?
The past three years have seen me implement a different way of thinking about arranging the material in my courses. I have changed how I evaluate student work and provide feedback. More importantly, I have changed the relationship my students have with grading. This has been incredibly difficult, where so many days would find me wondering why I decided to make my life challenging. And yet, I can not return to my old ways because I see the incredible payoff in students. The possibilities are beyond anything I had hoped.
Since I no longer use this web space for my classroom teaching, I hope to use it to share my thoughts about the Standards-Based Grading (SBG) journey. Let me know what you think.