Grades are our way of measuring the extent of learning that has taken place. Often times grades fail to portray what really has been learned, and in reality should not be looked at so critically by parents, and scholarship committees. Grades do not take every variable into consideration that can and does affect student learning. For example, student learning styles are often different than the teaching styles used in the classroom. However, students are expected to adapt and still maintain high grades. Organization, something many high school students struggle with, is also a huge determine factor of a students’ grade, despite the fact that grades are not intended to measure a students’ organizational skills. Relationships with other students or the teacher can also impact student learning. Many teachers incorperate effort and attendance into grading, and even allow extra credit which, in some cases, does not even pertain to an academic objective (like giving points to a student who brings a box of kleenex to class). Therefore, grades do not really paint a clear picture of what students have learned; they simply indicate how well a student can “play the game of school.” However if you are determined to make good grades, I will try to explain a few things that will help you understand how to improve your grades.
The first step in making good grades is to simply avoid making bad grades. Wow, doesn’t that sound obvious! Students do not fail high school, because they are stupid. I would argue that a student actually must put forth effort to fail. Most students who do fail are actually brighter than some of those who pass. It is the students that maintain D averages consistently that I really worry about. Any student I have ever failed had one thing in common. They never turned in work. Anything that went home or took any effort whatsoever outside of school was never completed. Most of the time there was a good reason for this, such as they worked a part time job to pay the bills, or they stayed home all day taking care of their mother dieing of cancer. In those cases, failing grades did not measure that students learning capabilities or potential. One thing to consider if you want to put yourself on the right track to earn decent grades is to simply make an effort to turn stuff in. If your home situation does not allow you to focus on school work, than you must find time while you are at school to complete work. This may require arriving to school earlier, working during lunch, or staying a bit later; meeting with teachers outside of class also will dramatically help your grade.
While in class there are several factors to keep in mind. Being an active participant in class discussion is the surest way to insure that you learn the material. There is research that indicates you only remember 5% of the content that you hear and only 10% of what you read, but up to 90% of what you discuss. Therefore, discussing information with your teacher or classmates will help you retain information longer. Another tool to help this is to learn good notetaking strategies. I like using the Cornell system. This is a two column note-taking system where a student would write all of the main ideas on the left third of the page, and list all the details about that main idea on the right side of the page. This is a great format to keep notes short and concise ,making them a great study tool.
Building a good relationship with teachers is also an important step to making the grade. This is not to say be the teachers pet, or suck up. But, it is true that if your teacher understands you, and your situation they will attempt to help you the best they can. If they truly believe you want to make good grades they will do what they can to help. Teachers cannot read minds, or predict your circumstances. Teachers are real people, if they are aware of your circumstances they will generally do what they can to help you out. However, this can backfire if their leniency is ever taken advantage of . Something to keep in mind that few students realize is that teachers and students really have the same goal. Students want to graduate and teachers want students to graduate. So, as along as both parties are working towards this goal there should be nothing to prevent that goal being reached.