To Our Teachers

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Grady Trexler, Opinion Editor

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Maggie Walker has officially started the 2018-2019 school year, and with new beginnings comes a new crop of scared freshmen and an old crop of overconfident seniors.  In years prior, the Jabberwock has published advice for the incoming freshmen, but as one of those overconfident seniors, I thought that this might be the year to give teachers some advice.  Here’s some things I hope you’ll remember as we embark on another year-long journey together:

Homework.  Having a clear, coherent, schoolwide homework policy does a lot of good.  It’s not perfect- some students might take longer than others with some assignments, for example – but it does more good than harm.  A fixed homework policy helps create and maintain trust between teachers and students by assuring students that homework given has been thought-through; it isn’t just busy work.  It also ensures a manageable workload for students, and when the workload is manageable, the quality of individual assignments goes up.

Deadlines.  The best deadlines are stated well ahead of time, in order to give students time to plan out their week or month- and even when they don’t, the poor grades they receive feel fairer.  However, more important is a student’s ability to obtain an extension when necessary. Every teacher I’ve ever had to ask for an extension on a project – whether due to personal circumstances or general scheduling issues – has been happy to grant one to me.  This is something that wasn’t entirely clear to me as a freshman. Classes could benefit from teachers being upfront about schedule flexibility. Tell students in the first quarter (and remind them throughout the year) that if they ask in advance, extensions are possible, or give reasons if the opposite is true.  This fluidity and understanding furthers the trust between student and teacher.

Grading.  Grades, for better or for worse, cause a lot of stress. Transparent grading- making students understand exactly what they got wrong, and why- helps relieve at least some of this stress by giving students the power to correct their future mistakes and learn from their past mistakes.  Graded corrections on major assessments are better because they force students to actually learn the content they missed. Some of the most formative and productive learning can be accomplished after an assignment is handed back. And, once again, clear grading generates trust.

These are just a few simple things that I’ve noticed in my time at Maggie Walker.  Maybe you already adhere to these principles; maybe you don’t, and there’s good reason not to.  You got a degree in education, not me. But at the end of the day, students have to be able to trust that you know what’s best for them.

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