6 Tips to Help Your Students Improve Their Grades

As a teacher of sophomores, I often feel that my role is not only to teach them World History, but also how to be good students and human beings. 10th grade is that interesting year where students are transitioning from childhood to maturity (or at least more maturity than they had before). To be honest, their lack of developed maturity is both my favorite and least favorite thing about teaching sophomores. On one hand, they are fun. They’re not too cool for my trench warfare reenactment and they create hilarious raps about the causes of World War I. (Can you tell I’m teaching WWI right now?) On the other hand, I find phrases like this coming out of my mouth a little too often: “please don’t shout to your friend across the room,” “no physical contact in the classroom,” and my favorite “please keep your shoes on during class.” Sophomores are a weird breed. (On a side note, I did legitimately discover my students casually passing around a student’s shoe during a film showing once. It was kind of funny.)

I recognize that since I teach at a college prep high school, I probably don’t even get the full range of 10th grade mania, yet even our sophomores need guidance, mentorship, coaching. Even more than usual, this year’s sophomores are having a rough time getting up to speed with academic requirements. I’ve seen lower grades than usual and heard a lot of complaining from the students about how their teacher “keeps giving me such low grades. She hates me.” Now, I don’t know about your school, but my school’s staff is full of exceptional human beings. I’m sure there are rare cases where teachers are straight up not being fair. I like to think that’s the exception rather than the norm.

In light of this, I decided to take 20 minutes of class to walk my students through some tips for improving their grades (and making them better future students, really). I gave my students a copy of the list, we read each one out loud, and then I further explained or answered their questions. I have to say I think it went really well. At the end, the students circled the numbers that needed improvement and wrote down 3 specific steps to improving themselves. Since this lesson, I’ve seen less complaining and more ownership of their academics. I love to see my students grow.

Here are the steps. Hope they find use in your classroom as well.

How to improve your grade in 6 simple steps

  1. Take responsibility for your grade. It reflects what YOU have done, not what the teacher has done to you. Avoiding responsibility only hurts YOU. Grades are EARNED, not given! Recognize that taking responsibility gives you the freedom to make positive changes academically.
  2. Get organized. Use your planner. Budget your time well. Know when your assignments are due and complete them ahead of time.
  3. Look for zeroes, do the assignments, turn them in for late credit. Do test retakes/corrections when available.
  4. Read rubrics for projects & papers BEFORE you start doing the work. Meet requirements for the work you’re doing and your grade will improve.
  5. Ask your teacher what YOU can do to improve and grow as a student.
  6. Have a positive, growth mindset attitude. If you have not done well in the past, think about how you can GROW. Colleges want to see IMPROVEMENT in 10th grade! This is the year that really matters.

What tips do you give your students? Let me know in the comments 🙂

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