Going bigger, going deeper

OK, so it’s been a few years since my last entry.  And since then, there’s been, you know.  Yes Covid, yes I had a leave of absence, and yes zoom and synchronous and asynchronous and so forth.

And since then I’ve taken more teacher training and have come to realize the depth and power of ungrading, more so than when I first started. We have had a sea-change in how we teach and ungrading has proven its adaptability and worth through it all. My last set of blog posts documented my using ungrading with our basic introduction to public speaking course.  I used it only for that course because I mistakenly questioned my ability to use it in my upper-level classes where I thought I needed more “control”. Oh the folly of that.

I am happy to report that I am using ungrading for all of my classes and am very pleased with how it’s working out.  So this next set of posts will explain how I’m using it, what decisions I’m making and why.  It will also explain how (as I realized through the excellent teacher training I’ve had courtesy of my awesome colleagues at Borough of Manhattan Community College) ungrading aligns with Culturally-Sustaining Pedagogy, Trauma-Informed Pedagogy and Writing Across the Curriculum.

Spoiler-alert:  All of these modalities give more control to the students, value their intellect, treat them like professionals, and trust their judgment about how to run their lives.  (Yes I will be using the oxford comma.)

So that is what is coming up.  The semester starts in about ten days and I’m in the midst of writing the syllabi and populating Blackboard.  All of my decisions about how to organize the classes start with the question: What decisions do I have to make and what decisions can the students make? I will be allowing the students to make as many decisions as possible, keeping a balance between giving them control and maintaining my responsibilities to ensure that they learn as much as they can.

And on that note, let me end by saying that in no way does ungrading “dumb down” the course or the curriculum.  I have found the opposite to be true, that I am able to raise the bar, to require solid work, while also allowing students to control their grades.

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