finalsStudents always ask questions that I cannot answer: How many people get A’s in this course?  This is in a Critical Thinking course where I want them to know what’s critical is that they are learning to think and that a grade cannot exactly measure their growth.  But I can’t tell them that grades don’t matter (to me as their teacher) because I know that they are the keys that these students are seeking, keys they can turn into universities, into careers, into happy, stable lives (no pressure). When they ask this, I offer what I can: the list of our assignments, the rubrics they are assessed by, the texts to read, the promise of lively discussions to illuminate the material, some extra credit, office hours, my willingness to respond to emails at nearly all hours of the day (provided they are not asking questions about what grade this essay would earn at this point). I want to say: you have an A; ow what will you learn?  But I know, for some of us, it would be far more productive to promise an F from day one.  It’s a tricky balance that we usually figure out by the time grades are posted.

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