Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dear Student

Dear Student:

It's the end of the semester, when most, if not all, of your work has been submitted; I understand you have some questions about your grades. Please be assured of the following:

  • If we the teachers make a mistake about your grade, it really isn't personal. We don't hate you; we're not out to get you; we really do want you to do well and not have to take our class again. Sometimes we just screw up and invert numbers, or add up the totals incorrectly, or some other silly thing that's the result of momentary stupidity. Tell us if and when you notice the error and we can fix it within a minute. It's nothing more than temporary stupidity; it really has nothing to do with you.
  • Unlike math, reading and writing are subjectively graded. I have more education and experience than you when it comes to reading and assessing, but sometimes I read a revision in which I catch things I simply didn't catch the first go 'round. (Thank you for having revised, by the way! That's really awesome of you and I'm so proud that you took the time and effort to work on strengthening your work.) That said, the chance to revise is not just so you can fix all the things the teacher said to fix; it's a chance for you to go back through the work yourself and see what you can find to improve your paper. This doesn't mean that some day you won't become better at these skills than I am now. I was hoping to give you the skills to recognize that, and if I didn't, that's on me. 
  • I can't speak for all English and writing teachers, but once I finish grading your paper and enter the grade into the gradebook, I don't remember specifics about your paper unless I look at it again. Unless you're an English major and a bit further up on the food chain (an upperclassman or a graduate student), your English teacher might be the only English teacher you have this semester; depending on the semester, I have up to 75 students. You remember your paper because it's the only one you're concerned with (and rightly so). I teach three classes this semester, but many of your teachers teach more classes, and even if your teacher who teachers another class only teaches one class, you're not her only student, so it's likely that your teacher doesn't remember the particulars about your paper until she looks at it again. Again, it's really not personal, but we teachers have dozens of students, and if, like me, your teachers read revisions, that means we're looking at even more versions of more papers. Please don't be offended or hurt; just remember that you're not your teacher's only student.
  • Again, I can't speak for other teachers, but in my classes, if you do the work, there's an excellent chance you'll pass. Now, "pass" doesn't necessarily mean "get an A" but it does mean you're likely to get a C, which is the grade you need in order not to be subjected to the class again. Please don't blow off the work. I have the class set up so that any one (or even two) assignments can be botched but won't destroy your grade. Have the mindset that you'll do all the work. If something really bad does happen to you at some point in the semester - and unfortunately, sometimes really lousy things happen - talk to your teacher because your teacher is more likely to be flexible.
Sometimes you'll get a teacher you don't like. Sometimes your teacher won't like you. Sometimes a class will be boring; it's impossible for me to find readings that all students will love all the time. But a good teacher won't let however much they love you or dislike you stop them from pushing you to be the best student you can be.

No comments:

Post a Comment