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On Grades: A Teacher’s Perspective

In a HeightsCast episode released in September, headmaster Alvaro de Vicente offered guidance for parents on how to understand, interpret, and respond to their sons’ grades while also nurturing strong and lasting bonds. This week we welcome Tom Steenson to HeightsCast to discuss grading from the teacher’s perspective.

Tom offers practical advice to teachers, framing grades as a means to helping students learn, whether they are relatively strong in a subject or struggling through a class. Approaching grading more as an art than a strict science, Mr. Steenson encourages teachers to be realistic without crushing a student and to challenge students to think beyond the grade, helping them find a real joy in learning. 


  • 2:10 Introduction: Grading from a teacher’s perspective
  • 3:00 How to think about grades
  • 5:05 Dealing with a strong student
  • 7:45 Should you grade different students differently?
  • 10:53 The grade-monger: Kids who are hyper focused on the grade
  • 14:20 Online gradebooks? 
  • 16:20 Practical advice for students struggling with grades
  • 20:00 Grading fairly without crushing the student 
  • 21:45 Advice for the art of grading 
  • 28:10 Closing thoughts 

Mentioned in the episode 

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck 

About the Guest

Tom Steenson

Fifth Grade Homeroom, History of Western Thought
Tom Steenson teaches fifth grade and the History of Western Thought.  He arrived at The Heights in 2001, having earned a B.A. in 1996 at Thomas Aquinas College, where he developed a love of ancient Mathematics, Philosophy, and Theology.  He moved to the D.C. area to study philosophy at The Catholic University of America, where he obtained an M.A.,...
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