Thursday, October 9, 2014

Parent-Teacher Interviews without a gradebook

Why does school create the conditions necessary
to make this cartoon both funny and true?
I had parent-teacher interviews yesterday and today.

I went through the entire two days without a gradebook -- we talked about children and learning.

Without the gradebook, we were liberated from talking about rows and columns filled with numbers and letters. Assessment is not a spreadsheet -- it's a conversation. Parent-teacher interviews should reflect this.

Without a gradebook, we were not distracted by reducing children's learning to numbers.

Without a gradebook, I had to actually know my students names and know something about them as a person.

Without a gradebook, I didn't get into needless arguments about whether their child and my student is an A, a 78%, or a meeting expectations. Instead of concealing student learning by reducing the child to a number or letter, we were able to talk about their child as a whole-person.

Without a gradebook, we didn't sit and stare at a laptop screen or spreadsheet. Instead, we were able to make eye-contact and talk face-to-face about (and with) their child.

I told parents not to bother wasting time looking at their child's marks on Pearson's PowerSchool. I told parents that if they wanted to know what their children are learning, what they are reading, what they are thinking, or how they are doing, then they should visit their child's blog.

Here are 3 reasons why the parent's response to all this was overwhelmingly positive.
1. Too many parents have a hard time getting their child to tell them about what they are learning at school, so they were excited to know that they could visit their child's blog anytime, anywhere and anyplace. They were excited to look at the blog through out the year and use it to initiate better conversations with their child. 
2. The best evidence parents can receive about their children's learning is to see their children learning. Parents were excited to know that their child's learning wouldn't be hidden in a binder in the bottom of their locker or on the teacher's desk. They were excited that their child's learning would be so visible.
3. Because my class sizes are ridiculously large (30+ students in every class), I told parents that I have a real hard time getting to each student, every class. They were happy to hear that they could help their child by showing an interest in their blog, and if they like, they could help their child improve their writing and thinking skills. 
If you are interested in replacing grading with more authentic ways of making learning visible to parents, you can check out my chapter Reduced to Numbers: From Concealing to Revealing Learning or here are all of my blog posts on abolishing grading.

Feel free to e-mail me. I enjoy working with teachers and parents to abolish grading to make learning more visible.


  1. I would love to do this, but I have a question. Does your school/district require that you give grades?

    Thank you for writing about your classroom.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Used to do my personal pgce meeting 3 years of age before, thus are not able to rem very much over it. indeed, lots of inquiries, I truly do Maths, thus were required to existing a problem/question/topic I did prepared & determine just what stage university student can take action specially thanks to pay people for writing an assignment

  4. The best proof folks can get about their youngsters' learning is to see their kids learning.I am learning psychology in an online university so i know the behavior of children and parents towards teacher.


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