As a teacher at mid term and report card time, I would always average my grades and put in what each student had earned. After grades were done, then I would go thorough all of the names and fill in the comment section. Here I could give positive or negative feedback for each student. In a way, it was like my students’ behaviors were never really factored in to the grade that I was giving them. Is this right?
I really hadn’t given it much thought until a couple of recent events. The other night, my wife and I, were watching an episode of “Restaurant Stakeout.” On the show, there was a waiter that the main guy on the show and the owner of the place were watching. He was doing a fair job of waiting on his tables. He wasn’t the friendliest person to the customers, but again he was getting the job done. He also had a girlfriend that happened to be a waitress at the same restaurant. He spent quite a bit of time creating drama with her and some of the other employees. This drama among the servers affected the service of the entire restaurant.
The young man ended up getting fired, even though his performance of waiting tables wasn’t terrible. It was his behavior and how it affected everyone else that blew it for him. This is also true in our classrooms. A student could be pulling a decent grade academically, but causing others to be distracted because of his or her actions. I have seen this with at least one or two students, sometimes more, every year that I was in the classroom. You end up spending more of your time with the student causing the distraction, instead of helping those that may need your attention the most.
Now, with the new teacher evaluation process that is going to begin next year, teachers’ salaries are going to depend upon how much growth the students are making from year to year. Student behaviors can affect that growth, just like the young man in the restaurant caused all of the servers not to do their best. In a business when someone, like the waiter, is causing a problem they can be fired. The business can then interview and find someone that will benefit and help the business make progress or growth. The owner and manager do not have to find a way for anyone that walks in the door and wants a job to get along with and work well with the other staff members.
In the classroom, a teacher does not have the luxury of sending away those that bring down the classroom and bring in other students that will improve the students’ performance or growth. Teachers have to find a way to reach every student that comes in the classroom and help him or her to be successful. That, my friends, is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. That leads me back to my title question. Should grades and discipline be separate? Do you think students would behave better if discipline was factored into their grade? I would love to hear your thoughts.