Breakfast with my MHS math teacher gang this morning at Birch Door. Dave B, Ed G, and Colin M. Colin is covering my classes while I'm in China. Calvin A wasn't able to make it due to other commitments.
Conversation was predictable. What's going on at MHS? How's life in China? What's it like teaching an International Baccalaureate curriculum? It was good to catch up with my old department and learn about some of the changes taking place. Being exposed to a different system is making me consider what I might do different when I return to MHS after this coming school year.
Homework? Testing? Grades? How are these three things tied together?
Question 1: Should homework completion be factored into grading?
Answer 1: In the past I certainly factored in homework completion in my grading. I have to say looking back I regret it. I created an enabling situation where students could find minimal ways to pass without actually learning material. Students could "work hard" and artificially raise their grade. I'm ready to be done with that for good. Being exposed to a system where homework is not work but instead practice has changed my mind.
Question 2: Should students always have an out if they fail a test? Retakes?
Answer 2: I've created elaborate systems in the past that gave students opportunities to retake tests, but it forced me to work harder than the students. This really becomes a responsibility question. More and more teachers are being asked to bear the responsibility for students grades. They know it. It's become horribly enabling for the students and too many of them are taking advantage of the lower and lower bar. Opportunity needs to be provided, but in the end students need to own their success or failure. The bar will be set based on standards. The opportunity will be provided to get help. It's going to be on students and parents to accept the help and get over the bar. This is clearly established in the international school in Hangzhou. Granted, we're dealing with a different population at HIS, but I terms of grading I feel much better about the system in place there.