Posted in Philosophies, Projects

Emoticons about Grading, Part I ๐Ÿ‘Š

Teaching Philosophyย ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸŽ“ย GWENRE ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐ŸŽ“

I have this grading technique called GWENRE.
It’s my grading philosophy.
It’s also like the ๐Ÿคฏ wordย GENRE, but with a ๐Ÿฆ†ing “W” in it.

G rade to
E ncourageย individual growth,
N ormalizing only the minimum requirements for the course.
W rite clear notes that make sense to the student, then
Rย eviewย those notes individually, in groups, as a class; &
E ducateย your students with your grading process,
rather than handing assignments back and “moving on,”
like the learning hadn’t taken us somewhere worth exploring.

When you’re a teacher with ๐Ÿ˜ฑ and ๐Ÿ˜ฐ,
it can be difficult to grade with so much idealism.

Grading takes more out of you than it should;
But listen, ๐Ÿง™โ€โ™‚๏ธ & ๐Ÿงšโ€โ™€๏ธ:ย it’s still possible to re-frame this.

If you don’t believe me,ย consider this quote:

And I donโ€™t know; maybe there are ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿซ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿซ who went into teaching
because they thought it would be ๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰ to earn a decent living
with an awesome schedule and ๐Ÿ•’๐Ÿ˜Ž off.

After all, ๐Ÿšจ๐Ÿšจ of the teachers in my state quit
within the first five years, so I assume it didnโ€™t ๐ŸŽข๐ŸŽ  in some way.

But most of us became teachers because we ๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’™ teaching.
Because we feel ๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž to teach
and, at least in my case, ๐Ÿ’”๐Ÿ’” imagine any other job
bringing us the joy we find in the ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸŽ“๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐ŸŽ“.

No teacher who is โ€œin it for the ๐Ÿ’ธ๐Ÿ’ธโ€
would ๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿ“š more than a year,
unless he or she was ๐Ÿ’ซ๐Ÿ’ซ to do anything else.

And thatโ€™s the ๐Ÿšจ๐Ÿšจ, isnโ€™t it?
Due to low pay, lack of respect, and unreasonable demands,
there are extreme teacher shortages in a lot of places.

Which means that you can practically ๐Ÿ’ซ๐Ÿ’ซ off the street
and get yourself hired as the ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿซ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿซ,
regardless of your ability to either do or teach ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸŽ“๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐ŸŽ“.

Teaching can be a โ€œ๐Ÿšจ๐Ÿšจโ€ profession because,
even if nobody else will ๐Ÿ’ธ๐Ÿ’ธย you,
a school will probably ๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿ“š out of desperation.

And every time a veteran teacher says, โ€œIโ€™mย not in it for the ๐Ÿ’ธ๐Ÿ’ธ,โ€
theyโ€™re buying into aย ๐Ÿ’”๐Ÿ’” system
that accepts ๐Ÿ’ซ๐Ÿ’ซ by offering ๐Ÿšจ๐Ÿšจย pay.

& various other ๐Ÿ’ฉ all over the Internet,
about how teachers are underpaid, so that weย ๐Ÿคฎ, and weย ๐Ÿคก;

you can reframe your grading by skipping that ๐Ÿ‘ฟ place,
as much as I wish it were a ๐Ÿค“ place,

& instead focusing on the extended conversation
between you, the teacher, and the student, who’s relying on your support.

Workviewย ๐Ÿ˜…ย Respectfully Disagree, Part I ๐Ÿ˜

But if we’re going to use K-12 education as a measure of how effective we’ll be in college, graduate school, or work, (all of which are potential fallacies, but now’s not the time for Pandora’s Box), then we need a grading system with some serious backbone to it,
thus Common Core,
thus standardized exams,
blah etc. blah.

Believe it or not, I respect this.

It’s neat to critically think about the education-society relationship
and what it says about greater values
within our 21st century community.

I respect this, and that’s why I have to
meticulously design my curriculum,

like a choreographer, dancing between
course requirements and teaching philosophies

to fulfill those standards,
while alsoย keeping the love for learning alive,

and we don’t get paid for those choreographing hours.
Like… at all.

Thus teachers complain about grading,
loathe the extra labor,

socially die in 80-hour work weeks,
blah etc. blah, and society says,

“We get it; it’s a hot mess.
Someone should seriously look into fixing it.”

In the meantime, as a part-time educatorโ€”
which is aย 500% sanerย a profession,

although my bills are tightโ€”I’ve always thought,
grading can’t take the brunt of all this;

we can’t turn grading into a cauldron of hatred,
into the education industry’s latest dung-beetle-storm,

just because the top 2% have found a way to corrupt
the current educational system so deeply,

designed this ineffective juggernaut
of a standardized examination system,

then left the public opinion
frothing like angry wolves,

until everyone was distracted
by the sudden brilliance of a Celebrity President
and they turned to look the other away;

they turned to look the other way;

but we can’t let grading take the brunt of this:
I’ve watched too many colleagues turn

the gradingย process into negative-thinking
number-crunching about how they can

bury a student under 2% of incorrectness.
I’ve attended “normalizing sessions”

where graduate students argue
with adjunct professors and full-time faculty

about why one college essay is a passing portfolio,
and the other one requires the student to repeat

history’s same mistakes, and

grading can’t take the brunt of this;
how to build a bridge between

a student who craves the right learning,
how to build a bridge between

that student and the teacher,
the teacher who has standards meet,

the teacher who has a soul that feeds
off the joy of mentorship;

the teacher who has learning and emotional needs
as much as the businessmen, cash clerks and parents,

veterinarians and beekeepers
all reading newspapers at the Fresno Train Station

grading shouldn’t lose its purpose
as the delicate, science fiction instrument

that fine-tunes the mentor’s choreographics
with precious data, that assessment

where the student the teacher knows in real life
and the student the administration wants to assess

is cradled gently, on a cloud,
like on a puff of air,

between so many different variables,
never dismantling the child for the sake of ease.

Watching Right Now ๐Ÿ˜Ž Answers with Joe ๐Ÿ˜„

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Kourtnie McKenzie holds an MFA (Fiction) from Fresno State and a BA in English (Literature Studies) from Cal State Fullerton. When she isn't writing novellas, she's moonlighting as a professor at Fresno City College and College of the Sequoias. To read more of her writing, visit

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