Starting Off on the Right Foot

Five weeks is up, and grades are due for progress reports.  All I’ve heard this week is shouts of “hey, what’s my grade in your class?!?!”  I get accosted in the hallway, in my classroom while I’m teaching a lesson, during lunch, etc.  I’ve tried to explain to students this is not only an unprofessional way to go about discussing their grade with me, but they should come talk with me either before or after school.  Regardless, they should not be late to a different class because they were trying to talk to me on the fly about what they are missing and what the proper recourse is.

So I keep asking myself, how can we get students to start thinking about their grades from day 1?  Many of the concerns they have over their grades would not exist if the first week had included turning in their homework.  Why is it that most students have a reactive way of approaching their grades, as opposed to being proactive?  I’m sure part of the reason is that they do not completely understand that starting off on the wrong foot makes it hard to pull a grade up.

Conversely, there are students that have done a wonderful job since day 1.  This makes me wonder why they do not always have an effect on their friends’ ability to perform in the classroom.  Obviously, each student is an individual with different personalities, but I would hope that all students understand the nature of their grades, and the importance they carry throughout their high school careers.

There are always going to be students that struggle to get all their work in, but I ask myself, how can I limit that?  How can I get all students on board with not only showing up ready to go, but prepared to turn in all work?

About Pat

Pat Riley is student teaching at Amundsen High School in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood for the fall of 2010. He will be teaching Contemporary American History, starting just before the Civil War, as he works towards his Type 9 certificate with an endorsement in History and hopefully Business. Previously, he worked in public relations and business development for a law firm in Chicago, but decided his passion was education. Prior to working in public relations and business development, Mr. Riley received a B.S. in Kinesiology with a focus in Sports Marketing from Indiana University. Follow his blog at Musings on Apples and Education.
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