What if it was possible to write the ideal letter to a student at the end of a term? Here are some possible sections for that letter:
A celebration of what the student has accomplished throughout the term, including possibly an award from what they did
A reflection on the student’s progress and development
A discussion of the student’s strengths and areas of expertise
Personalized feedback and suggestions for areas of improvement
Encouragement and support for the student’s future goals and aspirations
A discussion of what the student’s future might look like and any potential opportunities or challenges they may face
A recommendation or endorsement for future opportunities
Closing encouragement and well wishes
If a student knew that you would be writing this letter, would they act differently through the quarter? If you see that student for multiple years, would they start to anticipate a letter? Would they re-read it in the future from an older/wiser mindset? For some students, it might be the only such thing they’ve ever gotten.
I’ve been automating and streamlining systems (I like to call it spreadsheet magic) for years and might give this a try. The set-up work would be pretty tough, and it won’t have all of these sections, but even two of them could be huge.
Just seems better than a letter grade.