This article discusses both the favorable and the opposing sides to taking behaviour out of report cards. One side of the article argues that the focus of school needs to be on students successfully completing work and meeting academic goals and the other believes that we need to keep behaviour in report cards to reinforce things like handing in assignments on time and avoiding plagiarism.
The article definitely got me thinking. At first I was in favor of keeping behaviour in report cards because I think that we need to make students accountable for their learning and letting them hand things in late and allowing plagiarism is not doing that. However, after I had some time to think about what the article was actually saying, I was offended in a way. I almost feel like the article is making it seem like teachers aren’t capable of monitoring ways of students completing their work properly and on time without including it in marks, which certainly isn’t true. I find it interesting that the behaviour portion which the article explains even includes late marks and plagiarism. For me, that isn’t really a behaviour problem. To me, behaviour is the way that a student is acting on a given day regardless of their work. If a student is having a hard time focusing because they didn’t get enough sleep the night before or is cranky because they got in a fight with their parents then I also wouldn’t want to include those types of things in report card marks. Students have lives beyond the classroom that they bring in with them every day and some of the things that affect them they have no control over. So I don’t think that it would be right for me to make things any more worse by giving them a bad evaluation based on that.
This article also got me thinking about things like students being able to redo assignments and deadlines for assignments. There was a time when I used to think that if a student handed something in late then they should receive a zero, but I have since changed my point of view. I think that it all comes down to student responsibility and communication. There is a difference between a student who will communicate to a teacher that they are having a difficult time with the assignment, need more time and help, having a rough time at home right now, or forgot about an assignment deadline accidentally and need an extension with a student who will not say anything and just toss an unfinished assignment on the hand-in pile. I think that teaching is really about building those relationships and understanding that students have more going on in their lives than what we see of them. I think that I realized this most when I started taking university classes. There have been times where I have not been able to get an assignment in on time and the prof has been understanding so long as I communicate that to them prior to the due date. If we are giving our students the skills to go into post secondary education, then why not give them this option? Also, some students need more time than others to understand concepts in order to complete assignments. They may need more feedback and a more clear set of criteria than others before even beginning a task but they should still be given a fair and equal learning opportunity and evaluative process as the other students which are some concepts that I have learned about in my inclusive education classes.
Overall, I think that behaviour is important and that teachers need to make their expectations for behaviour, including attitude, late assignments, and plagiarism clear in their classroom, but I do not think that, that means that they need to be included in the evaluation process. If we have these conversations with our students and build a communicative learning community then I don’t think that those problems are as likely to happen.