Teachers Need to be Less Subjective with Grading

Throughout my high school career, I have encountered many types of teachers. The least pleasant, and perhaps least productive, are the ones who shame their students for not doing exactly as they wanted, and who allow their personal feelings to take part in the grading process.

Having taken classes like AP Biology, Honors Humanities, and chemistry in the same year, I have had my share of experiences with difficult teachers.

As a student, I have found communication with your teachers, especially those in your harder classes, is crucial for survival. Although the coursework may be challenging, teachers should always be willing to provide students with help if they ask. All questions are fair game up until test day.

The same goes for feedback; it is a good habit to talk about your paper after it was graded with your teacher, so that you can show them you are putting in the effort to get better, and you understand what you need to improve on next time. If you develop these habits you can usually count on being more successful in a class. The problem that can arise here is how a teacher reacts to your questions or your request for help.

Recently, I had an unpleasant experience when asking a teacher for more feedback after having been confused with the comments made on my paper. Although the comments may have been valid, I’m not claiming to be the best writer in history, many of them were almost passive aggressive.

The first thing my teacher said when entering the class that day was that the essays sucked and claimed we did not try. After having asked about the problems they had found in my essay, my teacher raised their voice to the point that people passing by would turn and watch. There were times when I was blatantly told I was wrong on something that was clearly one’s personal opinion. After this encounter, I was left feeling angry, embarrassed and clueless as to how I could improve.

The thing about teachers like this is that they expect something so specific to their personal liking, but give so little information or space for error, that it becomes impossible to write or complete an assignment fitting their criteria. Being a hard teacher is one thing; being an unfair teacher is another.

Finding a solution to a problem that can be so subtle and subjective can be difficult, but there are many steps that can be taken to decrease the chances of things like this happening. First, if the grading is going to leave little room for creativity, providing a rubric longer than one paragraph would make a big difference. Showing examples in class of pieces that were successful is another way of showing students what you expect. Monitoring test grades and being skeptical of a teacher as much as we are skeptical of the students when most of the class is failing or getting grades below a B is another way to avoid this. Answering questions without judgment, or anger would also improve the quality of the work being turned in. Unfortunately, students lack such ability to do anything when a teacher is honestly being unfair. What we can do though, is maintain our temper and speak up when needed.