I couldn’t agree with this more! It seems like these days, students and even some parents expect teachers to just give out good grades like they’re candy. It is important to praise students’ efforts, but verbal praise is much better than letter grades when it comes to in-class effort and participation. Now that it’s finals week (for my own students as well as many others), students are often wondering why their grade isn’t higher.
If a teacher keeps a good record of assignments turned in on time, late, or missed for each student, then the student’s grade stands as a testament to what is shown on the book. I remember my days as a student, and when it came time to see my grade I was always a little fearful. I wasn’t the most diligent student. I had my fair share of late and/or missed assignments, but I turned out alright. My parents gave me hell, too, if I was in the “C” range or below. But I earned what I worked for.
As a teacher, especially in a foreign country, there are a lot of expectations thrown upon me. It seems as though I’m babysitting as much as I am teaching. I try to encourage my students to find out information for themselves; I don’t like spoon-feeding answers to kids and yet parents here (in South Korea) sometimes seem to expect that. I want my students to use their resources (books, notes, etc.) and encourage them to take notes during the lesson. Some students do, others don’t. As I look in my grade book, I can see some improvement as my students have turned in more assignments and completed more bookwork than at the beginning of the term. I am happy to see that, but I also know they can still be better.