Kermit Says: Forget the Grade

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As a teacher, I face a lot of obstacles that get in the way of productive and positive classroom experiences, one of which is grades. I often have students asking for additional opportunities to improve their grades, not their skills. Or students who bypass marginal comments and flip to the back to see their grade. And in rare cases, students who try to negotiate their grade in an effort to change it. While I would never prevent a student from doing better in class, I’m concerned that, more often than not, a student’s focus and motivation to improve is misplaced.

When did the importance of grades outweigh the importance of learning and growing?

I understand that many of you are experiencing innumerable amounts of pressure from schools, parents, college applications, etc., but you must be strong and prioritize gaining knowledge over gaining good grades. Furthermore, you must understand that there is no fixed correlation between the two.

This is not an exhaustive list, but gaining knowledge means being focused, attentive, passionate, risky, eager, strong, dedicated, determined. No matter what. It means actively reading even though you know it slows you down. It means revising your papers even when you won’t be graded. It means staying and talking to your math or science teacher for extra help simply just to clarify, learn, and deepen your understanding. While doing the above can certainly help you get better grades, grades should not be your primary concern, but mastering skills and learning new information should.

Students, hone your voice, cultivate your skills, and try not to let the power of grades, school, teachers, friends, and even parents pressure you or reduce you to a mere grade, a grade that has zero weight once you graduate and go off into the world. Recognize that you are more than a grade. In fact, you’re not a grade at all. You are a human being with thoughts, ideas, love, light, and a valid and valuable voice worthy of being shared both inside and outside of the classroom. So instead of challenging you to solve a math problem, this teacher challenges you to shine brighter than any grade ever could.

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