Keep Calm and Carry On

At this point, I’ve posted the first “real” grades for my English classes this year, and I’m going to ask that before you do anything else, you take a BIG HUGE BREATH. Just…

It’s easy to get upset about a less-than-stellar grade on a report card, no matter what you consider that to be. For some of you, it’s anything less than an A. For others, it’s grades of D or F.

Whichever camp you fall into, there are some things you need to keep in mind if things aren’t quite going your way:

  1. Week one grades aren’t really that accurate. When there are only a handful of grades in the gradebook, one really good grade or one really bad grade can yank the average out of control. Take a look and see what’s going on. Was it just one bad test or missing assignment, or are all of the grades equally poor? I give a LOT of grades (there are 12 columns in my paper gradebook already and we’re only on week 2). There’s usually time for a low grade to be evened out, provided the student makes some effort.
  2. Habits are more important than points at this stage. Missing and late work destroys a student’s average faster than anything else. When I grade work, I start by marking each assignment that I received with a “Turned in” flag. Missing assignments are flagged “missing” (which automatically enters the grade as a zero). When the assignment is turned in, the flag becomes “Turned in – Late”. Does your child have a lot of missing or late assignments at this early stage? If so, is there a good reason (such as absences)?
  3. Call/email early. If you have a question about a grade, please don’t wait until parent-teacher conferences to give me a call or send me an e-mail. It’s best to nip problems early before they become major issues.
  4. Ask for help. When ESS begins, students can come to my classroom on Wednesday mornings for ESS. That gives a student extra credit in the class and also gives you the benefit of one-on-one tutoring to help raise the grade. Students: don’t be afraid to ask for help studying or for a chance to retake a test or redo an assignment. The answer won’t always be yes, but don’t be afraid to ask. If you never ask, the answer is always no. 🙂

Finally, here are some quick answers to questions I’ve received about grading:

  • Summer reading test (Pre-AP only) – sorry, no retakes on this one. You were given a Quizlet with the exact test questions and answers.
  • Bell ringer quizzes – these are only worth a small number of points a week. One bad quiz won’t hurt you much (most worksheets are worth more than this). If you have a bad week, dust yourself off and study harder the next week.
  • Major Works Data Sheet – East of Eden (Pre-AP only) – some of you forgot to go back and finish this one, and therefore got a 45/60 instead of a 60/60. I will allow you to go back and do this, but it’s on you to let me know when it is finished. I will not go back and check on my own.
  • Syllabus – This is a grade and a requirement. You must turn it in. If you don’t, that will result in a consequence beyond a zero in the gradebook.
  • Extra credit – I don’t give a ridiculous amount, but I do give some extra credit here and there. There are several different ways that I offer extra credit to be fair to everyone (for example, bringing in supplies, donating books, completing extra work), and there is a cap on how much can be earned.

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