Number and Letter Grades VS Comments

This morning I woke up to a very sweet comment from another teacher who downloaded one of my products on TpT and it reminded me about how I feel about giving out grades to students and receiving grades myself. I feel so good about myself, that my hard work has paid off when I get a comment. When someone downloads one of my products whether it is free or priced, I feel great but there is something about positive feedback that makes me feel so rewarded. I feel the same way about grades. When I received a specific note on my papers in school I felt like that helped me so much more than seeing a number or letter grade. Criticism was better received by me as well through a comment rather than a grade. I feel like a comment is more specific and I can learn from that whereas writing a 70 on my paper means nothing.

Do you think we could omit number and letter grades and just have grade comments? I feel like all of the above are subjective so that would strike that argument. Positive comments and constructive criticism are much more helpful. As a student and as a teacher I believe that this could really help increase our knowledge as well as our self-esteem.

One could argue that letter/number grades would not work for math and I understand that but I still really like the idea of comments as grades for all other subjects. What do you think?

The picture above of an essay I wrote many years ago holds quite a memorable story for me. At the top of that post-it which you cannot see are the words "See Me." It turns out that my English teacher wanted to know if I cheated or had gotten any help writing that essay. She knew that cheating was out of character for me but she had to ask because she felt like the essay was written very well for a 7th grader. Well, first I was scared because I knew that I didn't cheat and wanted her to believe me. After talking with her she told me that if I was telling the truth, I should drop out of school and become a writer. It was bittersweet at the time because I knew this was quite a compliment however I was not able to fully enjoy the feeling because I was still a little scared. However, today I will never forget that conversation and the way it makes me feel to remember it. I saved both the essay and her note. I didn't remember this story or essay because there is a numbered grade at the bottom, I saved this because an experience like that is rare and I will never forget the way it made me feel.

I have received the lowest of grades and the highest of grades but the grades I remember most are the ones that are written about me.


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