A B Ready Code: Habits 3 and 4
Hello, and welcome back to A B Ready.com. This is the second of five short videos about the A B Ready code, a list of ten habits guaranteed to help you succeed in school.
Work Hard to Earn only A’s and B’s in Rigorous Classes. Now, please understand that this series of videos on the A B Ready Code is a “Quick Start” way to helping you to become a more successful student. There is a second series of videos available to you which will explore a number of important issues facing adolescents today. It’s there that you will learn in greater detail about the Meaning of Grades. But for now, simply make it your goal is to earn A’s and B’s.
So, the question is: how do you measure your success in school? Well, not with a thermometer, or a yard-stick. You measure your success in school with a report card. If you ask teachers how they know if a student is ready to move on to the next level with confidence, most will say, “Students earning A’s and B’s will be ready for new learning.” Teachers begin is hedge their bets with students making C’s because those students have significant gaps in their learning and they will have to work even harder to make up for what they missed. Students making D’s have even bigger gaps, so much so, they may not even finish at the next level.
What does it mean to “Work Hard”? It means treating C’s and D’s like problems to be solved. C’s and D’s are not labels to hang around your neck. You are not a C or D student. However, if you treat C’s and D’s like problems, then you work hard to solve those problems. For example, you could ask more questions in class when you don’t understand something. Or you can ask a classmate, who does understand, for an explanation. If you still don’t understand the answers to your questions, ask your teacher for help outside of class, before or after school, or during your study period. You can start taking notes in class during the teacher’s explanations to catch the main ideas and the significant details. You can participate more fully in classroom activities, and you can go over your tests to understand why you got something wrong, so that you won’t make the same mistakes again. Yes, that is Hard Work, but you can do it, and you will experience greater success in class.
And, beside, there are some very real benefits to working hard. By working hard you exercise your brain. You may even increase your I. Q. According to the book, The Teenage Brain, at no other time in your life will your brain be so ready to learn and experience new things than in adolescence. By working hard to solve academic problems now, you are actually exercising your brain and enabling it to solve more challenging questions later on, all to your benefit.
Now, what is meant by “rigorous” classes? They are classes your school says will prepare you to do college-level work. So, ask your teachers, your guidance counselor, and your school administrators if the classes you are taking will prepare your to do college-level work by the time you graduate from high school. If not, make sure you are earning A’s and B’s in your current classes, and then start taking more challenging classes as soon as possible.
So, while we are talking about working hard, let me tell you about Kathy’s story. A number of years ago I was teaching French II which is typically a sophomore class, except for Kathy. She was a junior because she had decided, for some reason, to delay taking French II until her junior year. Well, three weeks into the course, she came to me in total frustration and said, “Mr. Ballinger, I don’t I can do this. I have forgotten so much French I. I think I need to go back to French I and do that over again.” Well, I said, “Kathy, let’s think about this a moment. I’m going to ask you to do something. If it works, fine; but if it doesn’t, you can go back to French I. But, I’m going to ask you to ask two questions a day.” She said, “I have hundreds of questions!” I said, “I know. But just ask two questions a day, and see what happens.” Well, she kept her end of the bargain, and by the end of the second quarter, she had run out of questions! You see, what had happened was, by asking questions every day, she empowered herself to answer her own questions, so that by that time she had caught up to the class and was earning A’s and B’s for the rest of the school year.
So, to finish up with Habit 3, think: C’s and D’s mean “Not Ready.” When your grades become A’s and B’s, then you will be ready to do college-level work by the time you graduate from high school. That’s what it means to be A B Ready!
Check and Record Grades Frequently and on a Regular Basis.
Almost all schools have students’ grades posted on-line on the school’s website. Make it a habit to check your grades frequently, at least twice a week, and on a regular basis, on, say, Monday and Thursday, or on Tuesday and Friday.
Not only are your grades listed for each class you are taking, but you can see how your teachers calculate your grades by categories such as homework, quizzes, classroom activities, projects, lab work, and more. Some teachers give a different weight to each category. For example, homework may count for 10% of your grade whereas tests may count for 40%. Other teachers may weigh each category equally. In any case, learning how your teachers figure your grades will help you to see where you can work harder to improve your grades.
Now one thing I have never seen with on-line grades is a way to see the trends of your grades which is critical. For example, if I saw a C- for your geometry class, but I couldn’t see your grades from the past few weeks, I wouldn’t know how to react. If your previous grades were A’s and B’s in geometry, then I would look for the reasons why your grades are going down and would expect you to remedy the situation. However, if your previous grades were D’s, then a C- would be an improvement worthy of encouragement. So, in order to make up for this information gap, I suggest you record your grades twice a week on your own Grade Record Card so that you can follow your trends. Here’s what a Grade Record Card could look like: with classes listed down the left side, spaces for dates along the top, and spaces for numerical grades below the date and next to the course. A grade record card is the best way to keep track of your progress.