More Than Just A Grade

I was working on interim’s today for my students. As I looked at the grades and comments it got me thinking about the educational process and grading. Our students do not get the A,B,C,D or F grade, they get a +, v, I, or N. As I began to reflect on previous years of teaching I got to thinking. I have placed many I’s in the grade book for my students. An I is not a bad thing, but in the competitive world we live in it is just mediocre. But when a student struggles and works so hard for that I, are they really just mediocre?

I think sometimes it is the effort and growth that matters more than the actual grade. I know a lot of very intelligent “book smart” students who can get high grades with little effort.  I know many students who struggle due to poor environmental factors, language barriers, or lack of any academic support at home; who should be so proud of that I. It is a quandary for sure. We need both kinds of students and everyone in between in this world. The work force needs hardworking conscientious workers in every profession.

What about that 40 year old woman who finally ran 3 miles and is so proud of her accomplishment, do we look down on her because she did not run a 26 mile marathon? What about the overweight mother of 3 who lost 65 pounds and fought the weight battle everyday for a year, do we think, well if she just lost 30 more she would look better? When is enough enough?

So many people suffer from depression or anxiety today. If these people get up, get showered, dressed, and to work on time with a smile on their faces; that might be their marathon. We have to quit being so demeaning all the time as a society. I see victories every day and these victories really matter.

Do you remember the Rio Olympics? All of the athletes worked hard, trained hard, sacrificed a lot, and deserve recognition for their athletic ability, deep motivational spirits, and extraordinary efforts. ALL of them. I adore Michael Phelps and think he is truly athletically gifted beyond most, however, for some Olympians one gold medal was enough, why was there always that comparison to him and his 20+ medals?

You know not every child is going to be a neurosurgeon, an accomplished violinist, a marathon runner, or a well known financial guru with his/her face plastered on the front of every magazine. Maybe we just need to help nurture each child’s unique gifts, appreciate their differences, celebrate their victories, and help them feel like someone important. Isn’t that what we strive for in education; not just a grade but a love of learning and a desire to always want to do more while being proud of each accomplishment along the way?

I tell my students that God does not make junk. He made us all to do great things. If you give it your best then be proud of that and be thankful everyday because no one is just like you and that is a pretty awesome thing.

read more

g-bookCome to The Half Price Bookstore at the North High Centre,

5070 N High St, Columbus Ohio from 1:00-3:00 on October 1st!

Get your books signed and meet the authors;
our A book coverLori Smith and Amy Loringbook 2

TTONTE (web)f-book

read more

This week has been an emotional one for me in an unexpected way. I lost a college friend to a massive heart attack. He was a great guy. He left behind a loving wife and 2 young children. His son is the same age as the students I now teach, so it saddens me to think this poor little boy will no longer have his dad.

I am lucky, my life moves on but with a heavy heart.

Then I saw a post about another childhood friend who has cancer. I know I am getting older but I guess I am not ready for this. I have so many fond memories of this particular friend; from kickball at recess, to school dances, to silly cheers on the sidelines at basketball games, and then there was always the sarcasm. I have been praying so hard. That is all I can do. I know this is just part of life but it still isn’t easy.

Please pray for my friend Jamey. Miracles can happen, right?


read more

How Do You Know?

Educators are so lucky for so many reasons. One of the main reasons teaching is such a great profession is that we get to see the fruit of our labor. On a daily basis we get to see all of our work matter.

Teachers plan lessons they hope will inspire even the most reticent learner. We want our kids to want to learn because we make the information so interesting, so compelling that they just have to be a part of the process. We want them active and involved. We want them asking questions, researching, and engaged. When they are… When we feel their excitement… When they complete a fantastic research paper, when they create an amazing visual project, and when they get with a group of other students to create an amazing presentation…we as teachers are rewarded. We can feel our success in their success. We can be proud because they are proud. We can feel inspired because we know that we did the inspiring.

Some educators have difficult classes. If you’re a teacher you know what I mean. Some classes challenge even the most dedicated professional educators. There are some years you just have to plod through. No matter how unique your lessons are, no matter how diverse your strategies appear, you just can’t seem to capture their minds. They just never quite lose themselves in the joy of learning. You feel like your year stretches out for decades. Many have these types of classes many times.


All of a sudden you hear a story about one of your most challenging students; that student who wouldn’t sit still; that child that just did not want to do any of your projects; the one that fought you every time you tried something new. Well it appears that the following year, that child is doing really well. All of the little things you would not budge on…neat penmanship, high quality work, turning in assignments on time, insisting on class participation, teamwork, and kindness; all of these things, finally that kid is doing. You start hearing that he’s the star of the class, she’s a leader, and he’s a wonderful upper class mentor. What the heck???? Then you see that student. He runs over to you all smiles. She is so happy to see you that she throws her arms around you, and he invites you to a major life event. And then he says, “You know…every time I go to write a paper, I ask myself what you would expect me to do.” She says, “Every time my friends want me to do something stupid, I remember what you said.” And he says, “I would never have made it if you hadn’t loved me even though I know I was a pain in the neck.”

Then you know.

read more