#TTOG: An Important Conversation

One of my greatest guilty (?) pleasures these days is searching #TTOG on Twitter and reading some of the rich discussion happening among educators. The beauty of TTOG - Teachers Throwing (or Taking) Out Grades - is that it cannot be discussed without exposing raw emotions and opinions about the very nature of education.

As a secondary teacher I have often expressed regret that I have to report a percentage at the end of each semester. It is clear to me that students’ focus on grades distracts them from their job as learners. It is particularly difficult to address student concerns as they apply to post-secondary programs and implore me to raise their grades by one or two percentage points to increase their chance of acceptance. I resent having to have these discussions with students because I am there to teach them Chemistry, not to ensure their admission to university. I often wish that students could simply trust me to prepare them well and that the universities would use alternate criteria (entrance exams? portfolios?) rather than ask me to be the judge of a student’s suitability for a program or scholarship.

For me, the best part of TTOG is that teachers are talking about creating a culture of learning that focuses on meaningful teacher-student relationships. Growing Success says that “the primary purpose of assessment is to improve student learning.” How often have we heard that phrase? How much does a grade distract from this 'primary purpose?'

Sports analogies help underline the absurdity of some of our common classroom practices. If coaches handed their athletes grades at the end of a practice, how helpful would that be? What would ‘7/10’ mean to someone who had just completed volleyball practice? If the grade is also accompanied by feedback, then what purpose does the grade serve? Why assign a grade at all?

This conversation is important, and we are having it at the right time. Check out #TTOG (or #scdsbTTOG) on Twitter to follow the conversation yourself. You can also read what our stakeholders are sharing at the #scdsbTTOG blog: http://scdsbttog.blogspot.ca/





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