I Only Do This Because You’re Doing Well [Stop Asking Me About Your Grades]

Jose Vilson Education, Featured, Jose

Not a day goes by when a student asks me how they’re doing in class. My teaching days have about three guarantees: a student will ask to go to the restroom when they already asked in their previous classes, a student will ask what they’re supposed to be doing even after I’ve written it for them on the board, and a student will ask me what their grade is. While the other two make me twitch a bit, that last one makes me grind my teeth. It goes like this:

Day 1

Student: What’s my grade?
Me: It’s around a 70 or an 80, I gotta look at my gradebook.
Student: How come? I do all my work.
Me (whispering to myself): You don’t wanna reflect on that before making such provocative statements?
Me (out loud): Let’s check my online gradebook. Did you log in and see?
S: Um, yeah.
Me: Did you click on the number?
S: Um, no.
Me: OK, click on the number and tell me what you’re missing.
S: OK, will do.

Day 2

Student: Mr. Vilson, what’s my grade?
Me: It’s around a 70 or an 80, I got like 140 students, let me go see.
Student: I know I have an 80 in this class, I did what you said.
Me: Oh good, so why are you asking me?
Student: … I don’t know …
Me: OK, cool. Let’s go to work.

Day 3

Student: Mr. Vilson, what’s my grade?
Me: It’s around an 80, I got like 90 papers to grade, but I’ll let you know.
Student: It’s an 80, how did you forget?
Me: Because I have about 139 other grades to remember, but I’m glad you’re doing well.
Student: OK, cool, I’ll get back to work now.

Day 7

Student: Mr. Vilson, what’s my grade?
Me: It’s around an 80 still. I got like 30 students who asked me the same thing, why do you ask?
Student: I don’t have an 80 anymore; I have a 78!
Me: What does the number 78 round to?
Student: I don’t want a 75, though!
Other student, laughing: that’s because Mr. Vilson’s still going to give you an 80!
First student: You for real?
Me: nods
First student: OK, I’ll leave you alone now.

Day 8

Student: Mr. Vilson …
Me: Wait, didn’t you say you were leaving me alone?
S: OK, so I lied.
Me: You’re failing now.
M: OK, so I lied.
S: Really?

So it goes on like this for about 150 days and that’s wild. I sift through about 300+ blog posts about not giving grades and block them all because the state still requires me to put a number that supposedly tells them whether the student knows the given material or not. Or something. There’s a whole series of things it won’t tell them, but that’s for another post.

This one’s about these kids.

Day 164

Student: Mr. Vilson, what’s my grade?
Me: At this point, you know what I’m going to say right?
S: No …
Me: I have 140 kids, leave me alone, you got work to do, I can’t give you an exact score because there’s all that extra credit I can’t add until the end of the marking period, and so whatever you have on the online grading system is a rough estimate, not to mention that I really want to hone in on the kids who may or may not make it to the next year with you, and you’re probably gonna make it but thanks for actually caring about your grades because really that’s cool.
S: … But I still don’t know what my grade is.

S: So what’s my grade?
Me: Just take the L for today.
Class: erupts with laughter
S: I don’t take no L’s, I’ma take the W, Mr. Vilson.
Me: OK, here’s your grade:

S: OKAY, I’ll stop asking.
Student 2: That was funny … so what’s my grade, Mr. V?

Class: rolling with laughter
Student 3: How about …
Me: … ask me tomorrow when I’m done grading thank you for asking.
Student 1, cracking up at his desk: Why are you doing this?!?!
Me: You know I wouldn’t do this to you if you weren’t doing well, right?
S: True.

We have less than 20 school days left until the end of the school year, and I’m still grading papers like it’s September. I keep telling everyone I’m a teacher that’s trying to be the best version of himself daily, and I often meet it. Sometimes, I don’t, though. That’s OK. I’ve taken enough L’s to make it into a W for everybody.