Make a Deal?

I make deals with kids at the ends of semesters. Some of my colleagues don’t agree with my philosophy, but I think it makes perfect sense.

We have very precise course outlines for each of the classes we teach, so what students must learn to pass each course is spelled out (which is wonderful for new teachers learning to instruct the courses). This allows me to look very carefully at the students’ accomplishments and reasons for why they don’t pass a class.

When a student earns over 50% in the class, needs only a very few learnings (or redos), and agrees to a 2-3 week work window, I will pass a student if the essential learnings are met and the student redoes a couple assignments of my choice meeting an agreed upon minimum standard. I think that a student should be allowed a 2-3 week opportnity to pass a class rather than have the student lose an elective and spend 18 weeks repeating an entire course (especially when the student may need very little to pass).

Not only is this compassionate, but also it makes economic sense. If 10 teachers in a department can make 3 deals each (out of 125-150 kids each), that is one section of a course we don’t have to create and staff. Plus, we may be able to keep a student from losing hope. An ‘F’ grade can be very damaging to a student’s feelings of self-worth, in particular a student so close to passing.

I’m encouraging others to take on the small amount of extra work each semester to help these kids out. Maybe I am a bleeding heart. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Make a Deal?

  1. Pete Hanson

    How often do students seek out a deal, and then never follow through?

    I think your post also gets at the heart of teaching (at least in middle/high school): is it about getting it right, AND being timely, or is it just the former? If the student is failed, are they going to continue to do the work to graduate? For some I imagine that to be a no.

  2. drpezz Post author

    If I am persistent and consistent, the students follow through almost every time; however, I do rarely have students in the position because I allow rewrites and retakes as well. I’m lucky.


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