How SBG has changed my conversations with parents.
I have always valued parental engagement in student learning. A strength of mine has been routinely emailing parents to let parents know how their child is doing in class. It isn’t uncommon that I would email every parent after an assessment and let them know how their child has done.
This school year I implemented Standards-Based Grading (SBG) and while writing my most recent round of emails to parents I noticed something. My emails looked different. They felt different. Lets take a look at an actual email I sent last year. I have blocked out the information to identify anyone.
It’s a positive email talking about how a child has done well on a test and their current grade. This is when I knew nothing about SBG. Now lets take a look at an email I sent last month.
Yet another positive email but lets compare. In the first email, the focus was solely on the grade and the percent. No where in the email was any content, any focus for improvement or anything to do with the actual learning. In the second email, the focus is clear. No where did I mention a grade or score. It was all about the learning, the content and what this child could do to further her understanding on a concept.
It’s important to note that I never once consciously made the effort to change my emails. It just happened. When I subconsciously changed my own focus on the content rather than the grade through SBG, that comes through in the things I do inside my class. I no longer am putting effort in a subjective grade but rather than in the understanding of the concepts. My emails contain much more informative information about what students can do to improve. What can a parent really gain from an email saying their kid received an 87% on a test?
“Change the focus. Change the learning.”