Building an Authentic Community of Practice


my relationship with grades

I’ve written for this specific prompt many times, but have never gotten around to posting the final product. So here it finally is. My relationship to grades has always been difficult. I was never really committed to school, I always thought of it more as something I had to do rather than something I wanted to do. Kindergarten to third, I was enrolled in a charter school for the “talented and gifted” after I passed a specialized test. I felt very isolated and lonely those years. I didn’t have friends, was bullied, and was severely behind everyone else in my class. I ended up repeating the third grade, so I’m obviously not very fond of the grading system and how it works. I felt like my teachers had totally abandoned and given up on trying to understand me. In reality, a little bit of one on one intervention would have probably helped me, but I never received that. 

After I switched schools, I immediately started performing better. In fact, I even started to excel compared to some of my peers. But getting good grades didn’t really change how I felt about school in general. I still didn’t enjoy it, but it was a bit of a confidence booster to get high scores. Middle school, I was severely depressed, and stopped caring about school altogether. This is around the time I was still figuring out my gender and sexuality. As a result, I was failing most courses, acted out, and skipped class. I was admitted at one point, but it didn’t really change anything. The classes that I did do well in, I had a great relationship with my teachers and peers, but that was it. 

Freshman year I had hoped for a “fresh” start, but I was overjoyed when schools closed because of the pandemic. However, my grades, which had just started to improve, took a massive nosedive since classes were online now. Throughout all of school, I was also doing terribly. I had a very low GPA, and was always skipping class and getting high to cope with my depression. I kept telling myself I was going to drop out, but I never did. Somehow, I was able to turn everything around halfway through my senior year. All my friends were getting into good schools, and I felt like I had just wasted a decade of my life doing absolutely nothing. I was being told by my advisors that I would either have to repeat my senior year, or have a late graduation. I was already a super senior at that point, which was already embarrassing to be 19 and still in high school, so I pushed myself to actually try. And I actually managed to graduate. 

I’m still not sure how I was able to do it, but I think that reaching out and gaining a good support system definitely helped. Even though it was already too late to turn my cumulative GPA around to get into any “good schools”, I was accepted into Guttman, and here I am now. It wasn’t that I never understood what was being taught, in fact I could have done everything very easily, I just didn’t care for it. I felt like the school system wasn’t doing enough for me, so I essentially gave up on myself. I’m not sure how an educational system would work if we didn’t have any grades, but I would definitely be open to trying that out. Grades never really motivated or mattered to me, and I think that applies to many people. I think if we didn’t have grades, it could encourage students to try through other means.