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Methods on getting a high mark with a hard marking teacher?

  1. Oct 27, 2014 #1
    Next semester, I have an English teacher who apparently marks ridiculously hard, and evidently, the highest mark in his class was somewhere at a low 80% for his previous grade 11 class. I'm in grade 12 and I need a 90% or at least a high 80%. What sort of ways are there for dealing with teachers like this one? Maybe talking to him before the semester begins? Sucking-up to him and becoming a teachers pet? Any ideas welcome, thanks!
     
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  3. Oct 27, 2014 #2

    e.bar.goum

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    I wouldn't do either. Both can backfire pretty badly, especially if you lead with "I need X mark in your class". This is what I'd do: When you get an assignment/test back, read the feedback he gave you and respond to it. If he gives inadequate feedback, or you don't understand his point, ask him about it. Don't ask for extra marks, but learn what you need to do better for next time. And then implement it in your work.

    If at any point in class, you don't understand something, clarify, don't get behind.

    There's not really a way around this, except to meet expectations for excellence with excellence.
     
  4. Oct 27, 2014 #3
    Excellent advice! The problem is, some of my friends who are quite brilliant get high 90's in all their classes, while for his class, they end up with high 70's at the very most. I'm guessing maybe one possible solution is to have another English teacher to check my work and compare their comments with my next English teacher. If he's curtailing marks, would talking to the principal possibly resolve this?
     
  5. Oct 27, 2014 #4

    symbolipoint

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    Study! Study Hard!
    High school English courses are different from Math and Science courses and require their own corresponding ways of thinking. Try to at least find some structure in what you are being taught. Much of the world operates through political and social competition in trying to manipulate other people with attempts at administrative pressure, but this is a (trying to think to most appropriate word for this) bad way of achieving competence.
     
  6. Oct 28, 2014 #5

    Simon Bridge

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    ... that's a big "if" BTW. Don't get me wrong - it happens. I've seen it happen.

    ... only if you can demonstrate an exemplary ability, and it's not just you. This is secondary school right? There needs to be no doubt that the lower grades are not deserved, that the problem is systemic, and you want to have parental support. If it were easy, then everyone would take this route to improve their grades.

    Sounds more like you need to express your concerns, in confidence, to the school councellor.
    No matter what, you will need support for your studies and, if there is something remiss in the teacher, the councellor is likely in a position to do something about it quietly.

    If you can get another teacher to go over your work - equivalent to having a high-qualified tutor - then great. For that matter, get a tutor.
    You may also have the option of attending another school, or requesting a transfer to another teacher's class.

    Whatever you choose to do, you will have to work very hard. So start with that.
    Even the hardest teachers tend to soften to students who genuinely apply themselves.

    Note: it may be that other teachers are marking too easy, contrary to school policy or something. Have you compared with other English teachers?
     
  7. Oct 28, 2014 #6
    Thanks for all the advice! Generally, I've been earning high 80's in English throughout the years of high school, so I wouldn't say other English teachers are inflating marks.
     
  8. Oct 28, 2014 #7

    Mark Harder

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    You have to c
    You have to ask yourself what their brilliance encompasses. Perhaps they are brilliant student mathematicians and scientists. Those skills don't necessarily transfer to humanities classes like English, especially if you are expected to learn to write essays for those classes. Many competent scientists can't explain in writing what they do. They rely on other people to write their professional papers. You don't want to be like them if you can at all avoid it. My own experience was that writing was very hard for me. I have always struggled with writing clearly and concisely. Yet, my senior year H.S. English teacher praised my writing at the end of the year. I was determined to become a scientist by then, yet I was interested in all sorts of things that weren't scientific. From what you say, it sounds like you don't yet know how well you will do in his class. If your personal interests extend beyond the sciences into the arts and humanities, this will help you in your English classes - & they will continue in your college years, as well they should.

    So, what to do? First, what not to do. Don't assume that the teacher is being irrational, or prejudiced. He may simply be demanding. Perhaps he senses that the students entering his class haven't been sufficiently educated in the humanities and trained in the skills he's supposed to teach. Don't speak with the principal!! Big no no. That's called "going over his head" with a problem you may have with the teacher. It's severely frowned upon in any organization you will work in or for in the future. I don't see anything wrong with speaking with the teacher early in the course and bring up your legitimate concerns. Ask him what he expects his students to learn in his class. If he's a little suspicious or asks why you want to know that (DUHHHH question, I know.), just tell him the truth - He has a rep for being a "demanding" teacher, and you want to do well. Try not to mention grades. Poor grades are not the problem, they are a symptom of an underlying problem, and it's the student's problem 90+% of the time. You are not brown-nosing or asking for special treatment. You are accepting a challenge and you want to be prepared. How could he object to that? Another possibility: Join a group (Start one if necessary.) to discuss class topics. Maybe there's already a school English club (The Dead Poet's Society - did you see that movie, with Robin Williams as a creative English lit teacher?). Other students apparently are as worried as you are. Maybe this is a way you can help each other through the challenge. Don't be secretive about it. As long as you're in it to understand and get ideas, not copying each other's work, you're not cheating. Hopefully, among your fellow students there are some with a genuine interest in the subject matter, which will involve some literature, no doubt. Find topics in literature that bear on your own lives. Great authors are not likely to be Martians. They have struggled and rejoiced with life just as you are doing.
     
  9. Oct 28, 2014 #8

    462chevelle

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    I went to another teacher 1 time about another teachers grading, and they basically told me that its her class and he wasn't giving an opinion. So consider that before you go.
     
  10. Nov 1, 2014 #9

    mathwonk

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    Of course it is conceivable that your teacher has a chip on his shoulder and declines to ever give anyone, no matter how strong, a high grade, but this is exceedingly unlikely in my experience. More likely is that your fellow students, no matter how bright, are used to a much lower level of expectations, and this teacher is trying to help you actually get better than you think you can be. Trying to get an A from this teacher by working harder than you are accustomed to do, may be the most valuable experience you will have before college.

    When I went to college after a weak high school experience of all A's for mediocre work, I got pretty much straight C-'s due to a raised level of difficulty that shocked me. In my first comp class the teacher gave the 40 of us: 38 C's, 1B and 1D, and I got a low C-. Afterwards I worked as hard as I could to improve, learned how to write more effectively, and it has stood me in good stead all my life.

    For a tip on improving writing, look at the book The Elements of Style, by Strunk-White. That's the one my teacher recommended to us, and it still seems to be standard. Good luck!
     
  11. Nov 1, 2014 #10

    atyy

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    But unlike mathematics, you can't say whether Strunk and White are right or wrong, just conventional. Well, perhaps the natural numbers are just conventional too :)
     
  12. Nov 1, 2014 #11
    I downloaded it because I wanted to improve my English writing skills. At first I though it was some kind of prank document, so I tried finding another online version. Then I realized that it was the real thing. I am not a native speaker and my English is not perfect, but I recognize a bullshit document when I see one. My advice is to read English literature, especially older classics. And with old I mean older than 50 years, before writers started using Elements of Style as a guide.

    This piece reflects my opinion on EoS:
    http://chronicle.com/article/50-Years-of-Stupid-Grammar/25497
     
  13. Nov 1, 2014 #12

    mathwonk

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    hmmm.... most people recommend this book, but Geoffrey Pullum and bigfooted do not. So you must make your own decision. I am just saying it helped me. But good taste is not a democracy, and bigfooted could be right. However in good writing, I think scatological terminology is usually eschewed.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2014
  14. Nov 3, 2014 #13

    Mark Harder

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    Any guides to style like Strunk & White are just that, guides. As with any guide, it's advice must be adapted to your purposes. Sometimes, dangling participles are the clearer and more elegant choice. I believe it was Churchill who provided an example where kludging a sentence so that its participle was internal, not ending, was execrably clumsy. You must re-read what you have written and judge for yourself. I find it helpful to wait overnight at least, before reviewing my initial work. That way, the mental clutter that seems to make an unclear sentence read clearly has dissipated, and the work can be read as though by a reader encountering it for the first time. Often I find that awkward phrasing is the result of trying to cram too many ideas into a single sentence. Breaking these runaway sentences into smaller chunks can lead to both clearer and more elegant results. That being said, I haven't read S&W since high school. Perhaps it shows. I almost never review the stuff I write on blogs.
     
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