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S1E8 - Teaching Humanity Through Ungrading - Claire Romzek

Moving Towards Ungrading and Educating the Whole Child
Laura Heyes
November 2, 2022

In Season 1 Episode 8 of Growth over Grades, educator Claire Romzek shares how her experience teaching during the global COVID-19 pandemic led her to reassess her previous emphasis on grades and implement ungrading in her classroom, focused on the needs and development of the whole child.

Ungrading and Whole Child Education

In this episode, Claire explains that her teaching methods were perpetuating an antiquated piece of our culture that prioritizes grades rather than actual learning, and so she chose to put humanity back into her teaching through ungrading. Claire identifies the roadblocks she encountered and shares her insights into some of the most common pushback educators experience when venturing into grade-free territory. Throughout the discussion, Claire touches on the critical role of formative feedback, 21st-century competencies, and developing a growth mindset in our students as we prepare them not only for school but for life.

Listen, watch, or read the show notes below.

Episode Highlights

  • 3:55: What does teaching the whole child mean?
  • 6:10: Why is the "Is this for a grade?" mindset problematic from the whole child viewpoint?
  • 9:03: What are the roadblocks on this journey of learning?
  • 12:37: How do you know when you have been successful?
  • 16:37: How do you provide the district-required grade when you move to ungrading?
  • 18:50: How does ungrading translate to state standardized testing?
  • 23:45: What does a school community look like when it's not focused on letter grades?
  • 25:45: How do you get started with ungrading?

Key Takeaways

  • Some students would rather fail because they did nothing than work hard on something and get a bad grade. Ungrading mitigates this problem
  • Education requires a culture shift to move away from the emphasis on grading
  • Roadblocks are a perception. When we cut grading out, we find more success than anticipated
  • Evidence of success occurs when teachers realize they are working harder during in-class time rather than outside of class
  • Regular communication between students, teachers, and families is important to ensure transparency about the child’s learning
  • An ungraded classroom can translate to state testing

Episode Highlights

  • 3:55: What does teaching the whole child mean?
  • 6:10: Why is the "Is this for a grade?" mindset problematic from the whole child viewpoint?
  • 9:03: What are the roadblocks on this journey of learning?
  • 12:37: How do you know when you have been successful?
  • 16:37: How do you provide the district-required grade when you move to ungrading?
  • 18:50: How does ungrading translate to state standardized testing?
  • 23:45: What does a school community look like when it's not focused on letter grades?
  • 25:45: How do you get started with ungrading?

Ungrading and Competency-Based Education Resources

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