Thursday, June 9, 2011

Grading Your Behavior

I hate doing report cards. I just want to make that clear up front. I can't get over the judgmental nature of assigning a 1, 2, 3, or 4 to students in 40 (yes 40!) categories three times per year. Some of the worst of these grades are behavior grades. I am required to assess students on behavior ranging from goal setting to respect to cooperation to effort and neatness.

I teach 4th grade. Nine and ten-year olds. 29 of them. In a 33' x 35' foot room. For 6 hrs & 40 minutes. 5 days per week. 176 days per year. Next year, it will be 32 students.

Now I contend that you could put 29 (or 32) adults in this room, for this length of time, and not one of us could 'exceed the standards' in ANYTHING that is listed on a report card under learning behavior. Truth be told, I can sometimes barely make it through an hour long staff meeting once a week without breaking some rule of propriety. Yet, we expect more of children then we ourselves are able to accomplish.

I always thought I was required to give these grades. Then I realized the reality is that I am required to RECORD these grades. So, this year, the kids are going to give themselves behavior grades. We will conference together, and I will record the grades that we determine are appropriate TOGETHER.

Your thoughts?


  1. I love your thoughts on including student input!!! I hear they're changing the behavior section of the report card though. I think it's going away from a 4321 system. I love the idea of having kids reflect and help the grading process.

  2. I like the idea of having students involved with grading their own behavior. I usually find that students are harder on themselves than I am. More important, this will become a learning experience instead of a reporting experience.

  3. Your post is so accurate on the assessment of adults. In our facutly meetings, I struggle to sit still and be attentive. I do look at my students and wonder how long they sit in their desks/chairs every day. I understand in many professions people are required to sit...but it is a choice and they get paid.

    Thanks for your great relections.

  4. My name is Snehal and I’m a former educator. In my role as the founder & CEO of Sokikom, I get to explore teacher blogs to seek out innovative teachers and strategies to learn from and spread to more classrooms around the country. First, I love the positive nature of your blog, and this post on grading behaviors--so right on the assessment of adults.

    As it seems like you’ve integrated technology into your classroom, I wanted to let you know about Sokikom, which is currently a free online tool teachers use to (1) improve student behaviors, and (2) differentiate math instruction. We’ve built Sokikom based on the feedback from teachers - as I read your blog it seemed like you might be interested so I thought I’d pass it along. We’ve gotten an incredible amount of feedback from teachers using our product, but are always looking for new suggestions as well, so if you decide to give it a try, please don’t hesitate to reach out me personally with questions or feedback! (snehalp AT sokikom DOT com)