“It’s no wonder that many adolescents mobilize their resources, not for learning, but to protect their egos. And one of the main ways they do this...is by not trying.” - pg. 58
We see, very often, students in the middle school that put forth little to no effort. Teachers are often frustrated by the fact that these students don’t seem to care that they are failing class. But when you take this problem and look at it from a mindset perspective, certain details can be seen in a new light. It could be that we have students with fixed mindsets that believe they are not smart (or not good at math, or not a good writer, etc.) and therefore believe there is no point in putting forth any effort. When you add the social components of middle school, these students (especially boys) would much rather look defiant in not doing the work than look stupid in getting it wrong. And by giving them failing grades, teachers just confirm what these students already believed about themselves - that they are stupid. In fact, by emphasizing grades as a motivational strategy, we are unknowingly reinforcing the problem that we find so exasperating!
Steps we should start taking:
- Push for more concrete conversations about moving to standards-based grading
- Reflect and discuss on our grading policies as a team (what we grade, how we grade, when we grade work)
- Move away from graded, summative assessments to using more formative assessments