People, not Grades

Dear A E,

I hope all is well in your corner of the world – in all senses!

I’m borrowing a moment of your time after my first full week with my students to remind myself that it’s my first time designing and teaching a unit – and that I should celebrate the small victories – and that I’m not (probably now or ever) going to know exactly how to reach every student, though I can try. One day and one interaction at a time. These humans I’m teaching – all 156 of them whose names I know and stories I know only a part – they are each important and worthy of care. I think the hardest thing will be for me to have to give them a grade while still letting them know that it is not their value as a person, just as in a discussion we talk about “ideas not people.” It’s so exciting to hear my students’ voices in a classroom where they were previously expected to be almost exclusively silent. In our first quarter of classes, we were warned that we might end up in a classroom for student teaching where we would have to change the culture – and yet to meet that challenge in reality is another thing entirely, an enormous but worthy task I don’t think I could avoid if I wanted to do so: the kids are too important.

I’m reminded of something I wrote almost three years ago now, a sort of theory of human interaction that I’ve till now only applied to other adults. I wonder what aspects of it are relevant to my kids – and to their interactions and perceptions of me, and all those other humans who ask and expect of them each and every day.

More to come as this process unfolds – and a brief version of the “theory” is here, if you’re curious.



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