Dr. Kathie F. Nunley
Advice to teachers:
You cannot be too clear when it comes to expectations. Make sure
your students (and their parents) are very clear on what your expectations
are for every assignment. One of the biggest sources of frustration
and fuel for argument is grade confusion. Students need to know,
going in, what your expectations are. You as a teacher also need
to know what your expectations are.
We've all been
in that position where we give an assignment only to be grossly
disappointed with the product turned in. We may say to ourselves,
"I don't know exactly what I wanted, but I do know this is not it"
Never put yourself or your students in that position. Before you
give an assignment, ask yourself, "what do I expect to see?"
I may offer an assignment for students to make a poster on the evolution
of the plant kingdom and make that assignment worth 20 points. Does
that mean that every poster turned in will be worth 20 points? Of
course not. So, what does a 20 point poster look like? What does
a 15 point poster look like? A 10 point poster? At what point would
the child get no credit? Write down your answers. Try to be very
specific. Avoid terms like "good" or "creative". These are terms
interpreted differently by everyone. Creative may mean an original
work not copied out of the textbook or using ideas from more than
one source. Good may mean that it shows 7 different transitions
or is in full color or makes good use of white space or took a great
deal of time to design.
Write down your
criteria. Share it with the students ahead of time. I make criteria
or "rubrics" for all the different types of assignments I offer.
I post those rubrics on the wall around the room, color coded based
on the assignment type.
to do well. Tell them what you want and give them a fair chance
to do it. If they fall short, you have a much easier time defending
your grade to both them and their parent.
Dr Kathie Nunley is an educational psychologist, researcher and
author of several books on parenting and teaching, including A Student's
Brain (Brains.org) and the best selling, "Differentiating the High
School Classroom" (Corwin Press). She is the developer of the Layered
Curriculum® method of instruction and has worked with parents and
educators around the world to better structure schools to make brain-friendly
environments. In addition, her work has been used by the Boeing
Corporation, Family Circle Magazine, the Washington Post, and ABC
her: Kathie (at) brains.org