Rewarding Effort in Education, not Grades

As a teacher, I’m sure you’ve had days when you wish you didn’t have to use your “red pen” again to mark errors on a student’s neatly written work. Sometimes it can feel like we are just looking for errors in an assignment. It’s so important to remember to look beyond mistakes and appreciate the dedication and commitment shining through.

As teachers, we strive to find the right balance to help our students grow. While we need to focus on academic grading, we can also balance it with rewarding hard work and effort in education.  

Here are some ideas to balance out the buzz of standardized tests, grading, and report cards and focus on effort:

  • Ask students how long they spent on their assignments. This can give you an idea of how much effort they’re putting into their work.
  • Allow students to re-do assignments with your suggested revisions.
  • Give students a choice between different projects that play to their strengths. For example, students could choose between writing an essay or giving an oral report to the class. This can counteract any discouragement a student may feel if they don’t perform or do well on standardized tests.

Some food for thought:

  • How do you help your students improve their work?
  • What rewards and encouragement do you give to students who are struggling academically but putting in effort?

Learn more about rewarding effort in education with this fantastic online PD course: Examining and Evaluating School Work.


About the Author
Ellen Paxton is a respected expert in education and best known as the Chief Learning Officer of Professional Learning Board. As a two-time National Board Certified Teacher, Ellen has successfully published and customized online professional development courses and Learning Management Systems for 20 years to help teachers meet their state continuing education renewal credit requirements. Through, and Ellen has established solutions and maintained partnerships with several accredited universities, higher education institutions, teachers’ unions and state Departments of Education while setting strategic direction that makes a difference and overseeing implementation of popular online PD.