It is end-of-the-semester grading time again. This is a time of mixed emotions – sadness because another semester is at an end, elation because another semester is at an end… sadness because you have to give a grade that is less than desirable to a student you like an awful lot, elation because a student who was flying under your radar just knocked it out of the park. Grading is an emotional roller-coaster ride on which you laugh, cry, cuss, sigh, and occasionally bang your head up against the wall. It is an unavoidable part of an educator’s job – to evaluate learning and a student’s ability to meet the expectations of an assignment.
Yet, the thing I am reminded of at the end of each semester is this – my appreciation of the students has very little to do with their grades. Not that I don’t want all my students’ grades to reflect that they are beacons of brilliance – that would be fabulous; but, I don’t think all things brilliant are captured in grades. Some of my favorite students and arguably some of my best critical thinkers are “C” students. “C” as in average under the grading rubric – but hardly average in my book.
But this is the currency of academia – grades. I didn’t make up the system, I just work in it. My solace comes in the handful of minutes I get to talk one-on-one to each of my students during finals week. In that time I can share with them the areas where I see their greatest briliiance. The truth is they all sparkle in their own way; and, while it may not show up on their grade report, I will make sure it sticks in their mind. That is, in my estimation, the most important evaluation I can give them.
Day one thousand two hundred and fifty-one of the new forty – obla di obla da