Five tips in dealing with tough classes.
- Try to seem enthusiastic.
In a hard class, you’ll need teacher approval more than ever. Even if you hate the subject matter, try to seem enthusiastic and don’t come into class moping. If you need any extra credit or a teacher’s help later in the class, acting miserable while you’re around them won’t exactly build a good rapport. This holds true especially in classes where the grading is mostly subjective, like English or Art. In troublesome classes, you’ll need the teacher’s help the most, and their view of you may subconsciously affect their grading of your work.
In short: no matter how you dislike the class, try to seem enthusiastic about it.
2. Don’t be afraid to talk to teachers. If you do have a conversation with one, talk to them yourself.
Teachers are people too, even if some of them seem harsh at first. They’re also adults, which can make it even tougher to talk to them. I’m here to tell you that it’s worth it almost every time to talk to them if you need to and that even the most difficult teachers are usually much kinder outside of class. There are a great many advantages to being able to talk to your teacher about a failed quiz or a missing worksheet.
One of the most crucial parts of this advice is communicating with your teachers on your own. Teachers are easily annoyed by parent intervention once high school hits and are less likely to take your complaint seriously. In some situations, its necessary for parents to intervene, but in most it’s avoidable. While it’s almost always better to talk to your teacher directly (face-to-face meetings usually increase your chances of getting what you want) it is far better to have you email a teacher than a parent go in to meet them. This only becomes truer the longer you attend high school, as teachers expect more independence from older students.
In short: if you need something, ask a teacher, and try to do it on your own.
3. Ask for extra credit and retakes, then be gracious if you’re refused.
Often it’s a good idea to ask your teacher if you can retake bad assignments or get extra credit, even if you think they’ll say no. It shows them that you care about your grade and that you’re willing to do extra work and will usually help. Most teachers want you to succeed and may be willing to let you retake a bad quiz/assignment or go for some extra credit, but others may not. If your teacher falls under the latter category, take your loss graciously. Teachers will not react well to anger or anything other than acceptance. All you depend on here is your teacher’s forgivingness. It is in your best interest to be polite during the whole process.
Emailing can be a good venue for this, but make sure to appeal to the teacher yourself and keep the language respectful in any email or confrontation. If you’re asking for a retake, admit to a mistake, if you’ve made an obvious one, and don’t overdo the excuses. If you’re asking for extra credit, say something about how you want to do better and request extra credit work. Don’t try and specify how much you want or need. That’s more likely to cause an adverse reaction in the teacher.
Be honest and polite, even if you don’t get any extra credit.
4. Get ahold of the syllabus and put everything on your calendar.
In classes that you struggle with, there isn’t any room for missing assignments or forgetting to study for a test. Getting a 0% on something could doom an already-lowered grade. To avoid missing due dates, find a syllabus of the class and put all the assignment dates on a calendar or To-Do List. If there isn’t a syllabus, make sure to pay special attention in class and write down every assignment. It could pay to find a buddy in the class to ask about homework questions. Find a method that works for you and make sure that you don’t miss any assignments or forget to study for a test. It could be a big difference in the long run of this class.
In short: use your syllabus, and calendar to make sure you don’t miss anything!
5. Finish everything on time, no matter how insane the workload.
With hard classes comes hard homework. But homework grades can be an asset when dealing with a difficult class, especially if this work is participation. Because you have resources like friends, teachers, tutors and the internet while doing homework, it can become a more consistent source of good grades. Good assignment grades can often hold average or “meh” test grades afloat, even when weighted as less. If you’re on the line between grades, homework could be the difference.
Another advantage is that almost any teacher will respect you more if you turn in everything on time. They’ll be more willing to listen to your pleas for a retake, more willing to dole out extra credit and more willing to bump up a grade. All these things you need especially in a difficult class, so do your homework on time for the best results.
In short: turning in things on time will return twofold.
Now that I’m finished with those five tips, I’m thinking about doing something unique next time, about fitting in or making friends. I’ll find something different to do. Until then!