A RhetNet SnapShot Reply:
THE GRADING VORTEX
My situation with the fyc class and the lit. class was much like this. I took "negotiating the grades" to the nth degree. Over the term, students and I established goals and criteria for individual assingments and work, for portfolios, and for the final report. We met one to one before they left campus for break.
Generally, the grades they determined for themselves were very close to what I had thought. But there were some where we had vastly different opinions. Halfway through one of those conferences, I suggested to the student that we might each break in our conversation for a bit and write about why we thought what we did about the grade or write why we may have agreed/disagreed with one another.
When it came down to it, when there was a difference, I went with the students' evaluation. I s'pose after 22 years in teaching I could be accused of going "soft," but I don't see it this way. In relinquishing the final sayso on grades, I realized more fully liberatory practices in teaching I've been working to achieve. It is the last vestige of power, of the kind of authority I don't find very conducive to learning, that I was clinging to. I am not sure yet exactly what I have learned yet as a result of that experience but I know it is already profoundly effecting my preparation for my classes for next term.