In this chapter, Paul used the I in his PIRATE acronym to represent Improvement Focus vs. Grade Focus. He says, "Start by downplaying grades and placing priority on personal improvement---shift the focus from external motivation to internal motivation." While that sounds perfect, I am realistic. I know that I can't just stop assigning grades. I still need a system for giving grades that is truly reflective of their mastery of grade level standards. BUT, I think that as teachers, it is our job to communicate with both the students and their parents that in the end, improving themselves is the ultimate goal. I had a special education student at one point in time who was punished for her poor grades. She was the hardest working little thing you've ever seen. If I could find a way to bottle her ability to never give up, I'd be a millionaire! Yet, she was always grounded because of her report card. What kind of lesson are we teaching her?
Instead of focusing on grades, we need to remember that it is our job to prepare our students for REAL LIFE! To quote Paul, "Remember education in your classroom isn't only about this year or even next year, it's about the people your students will grow into." (Solarz, 80) I feel the need to repeat that last sentence again....just because I love it.