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#38: Cram Sesh - Two Types of Greys

There IS a way to address unfair grading —- practical advice from two educators.



Shout outs!

Many thanks to Jason and Candice of Completely Off The Rails Podcast and their other show, Fiendish Fairy Tales. They've given our show a whole lot of love this week and we appreciate you!


Jenny wants to give some extra thanks to her high-school pal KZ -- we're honored that you're a listener!


Lastly, sending lots of love to our newest patrons Karly and Raina. We love you girls and Mrs. K really misses your faces. 💚


Go Sports!

Current Obsessions

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      • Some great ones to try from your local drugstore, here!

  • Caitlin:

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  • Jenny:

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      • Abigail rated it a 10/10 and I thought it was fabulous!

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      • The football game had no fans for visiting team, but it DID have even more fabulous reunions and an "only in Texas" rendition of "Deep in the Heart of Texas" that felt straight out of an episode of King of the Hill

  • Caitlin:

Real Talk: Listener Question -- How do I address 'unfair grading' with my child's teacher?

We got a listener question and had to answer this one!


Hello Caitlin and Jenny,
How are you today? I am writing because I am a teacher who absolutely adores your podcast. I think you are both so amazing and so funny. I am emailing now because I need some advice from experienced teachers and parents. My daughter is struggling in school. She is in 5th grade in Augusta, Maine. I think that her teacher is unfairly grading her essays and it makes her lose hope in school. I know you are both really busy superpower women, but I would love it if you could maybe incorporate this scenario briefly in an amazing new episode of your fantastic podcast.
I appreciate your podcast and hope that this finds you well,
Brian M.

Hi Brian! Thanks for sending this in! The content of your email is spot on! 😉🤣


This is a common concern and we definitely have thoughts. (If you'd like to skip ahead and grab the email we've drafted on your behalf, click here!)


To us, it sounds like there are two issues here:

  1. Unfair grading/bad teaching

  2. Your student losing academic confidence and their love for school


Issue 1: Unfair grading

  • Address with the teacher directly – do not call or send any emails CC-ing anyone else in your first contact

  • Avoid anything that sounds accusatory – you’ll immediately put the teacher on the defensive and you want to preserve the relationship, especially this early in the school year

  • Start with an email asking to clarify the grading policy – the key word here is asking

For example...

Hi there! I hope this email finds you well.
I am emailing about the XYZ essay that ‘Sally’ wrote. She worked really hard on this assignment and I helped with XYZ, but she feels like the grade that she earned didn’t reflect the final product that she submitted.
Can you clarify how you graded this assignment so that we can ensure that she meets all of the requirements? I would love to see the rubric that you used so that Sally and I can talk through it for the next essay.
  • By speaking to the teacher first, you’re respecting their authority.

  • By asking to see the grading rubric, you’re validating the teacher’s process.

    • You can also ask to see the specific rubric used to grade your daughter’s work to see how she received that grade

Issue 2: Your student’s feelings

  • Be honest about your daughter’s feelings and make them “I-statements” so you aren’t being accusatory

  • Again – validate the teacher’s expertise in how they relate to children

  • Add something to the email about your daughter’s feelings about her assignment and school

For example...

After this assignment, I’ve noticed that Sally seems to be feeling really down on herself and school. Do you have any advice about how we can address this together?

If the answer that you get isn’t satisfactory for whatever reason, it’s okay to ask for a follow-up meeting/Zoom call with some additional support from a school counselor or assistant principal.


Our bet? This essay may have been graded without a rubric. Your email will likely alert the teacher that (a) they should start using rubrics to grade -- it's more equitable that way -- and (b) the relationship that they have with your daughter and with you is in danger. We're optimistic that this email will help!


Please keep us posted, Brian! We'd love to know how things change (or not) and are happy to help with the next steps, as needed!


💚, Caitlin & Jenny


Email:

Subject Line: [name of student] -- [name of assignment], grade question


Body:


Hi there, [Name of Teacher -- either First Name or Mr./Ms. Last Name]. I hope this email finds you well.


I am emailing about the [name of assignment] that [name of student] completed. She worked really hard on this assignment and I helped with it, but she feels like the grade that she earned didn’t reflect the final product that she submitted.


Can you clarify how you graded this assignment so that we can ensure that she meets all of the requirements for next time? I would love to see the rubric that you used and [name of student] and I can talk through it for future [assignments/projects/essays, etc].


Additionally, after this assignment, I’ve noticed that [name of student] seems to be feeling really down on [himself/herself/themselves] and school. Do you have any advice about how we can address this together?


Thank you so much,

[Your Name]

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