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Pacing & Grading: Learning Beyond Teacher Prep

Pacing & Grading: Learning Beyond Teacher Prep

"When it comes to grading, I believe in transparency and efficiency."

Kevin Bibo | Teaching.monster.com

Pacing and grading are two important parts of teaching I don’t remember spending much time learning about or even discussing in teacher training. I don’t even talk about them much when I teach my course in the university teacher credential program. However, these two areas of teaching are very significant to the success of every classroom teacher. They are two areas that are very personal to the individual teacher. There is no magic teaching day schedule or methodology for assessment that will work for every teacher in every subject every time. The good news is you get to figure these two things out for yourself once you get into your own classroom and start working with your own students. You may want to ask for help.

Most districts have invested significant amounts of time and resources into establishing their own yearlong subject-to-subject scope and sequences. Perhaps some schools or departments may also have a pacing guide that includes the standards and suggests a unit-to-unit schedule. Textbook publishers also suggest schedules. It’s overwhelming to look at the canon of standards and try to figure out when to teach what and in which order. If you are a lone-rider-elective teacher rambling along the scholastic plains, then look to the web for kindred souls. It’s also important to consider your audience. The kids in one classroom at one school will probably learn at a different pace then the kids in another classroom at a different school.

Once a teacher enters their classroom and closes the door, it’s up to them to make sure every kid “gets it” before standardized testing occurs in the spring. Some teachers treat their scope and sequence as doctrine, others as a suggestion. Most teachers would agree that it is vitally important that their students understand material presented before moving forward, but with the amount of material to cover, sometimes that doesn’t happen. I’d like to suggest that taking class time to pause or add “white space” to the day is a great way to help students absorb what they have learned. Plus, it gives the teacher a chance to pause, reflect, regroup, revive and re-teach if that is what the students require.

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When it comes to grading, I believe in transparency and efficiency. To the extent that it is possible, teachers need to focus on ensuring that their pupils know exactly what they are being assessed on for every assignment. Secondly teachers will need to develop quick and simple ways (like using rubrics) to evaluate student work. When assessing group work, it is important that we not allow the “doer” student to take over and then give credit to those who “don’t.” When I grade groups, I weigh 90% of the grade on the individual’s effort, and only 10% on the groups performance. That way, a student who has completed their assigned task with excellence is not injured too much by their partner who submits incomplete work.

Teaching is an in-depth and detailed profession. Teacher credential programs are very necessary but only scratch the surfaces of the much deeper and larger issues of teaching. Experience is the best teacher, but an inexperienced teacher or even a teacher in need of growth can learn much from reaching out to their colleagues for assistance and guidance. Access anything and everything you can get from your district to help with pacing your day and grading your students’ work. Remember to consider your students’ ability levels and be willing to be flexible if things don’t go so well the first time. The longer you teach and the more time you spend instructing your pupils the more accurate the pacing and grading will be in your classroom.

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