The Anti-A Teacher

The Anti-A Teacher

By Tasha

I'm a freshman at a pretty good private school in New York, and I'm a pretty good student. I've been getting A's in almost all my subjects, with the exceptions of English and Spanish. Spanish is just a little hard for me, but I will get through. English, however, is a real challenge. I have a super tough teacher, and no matter how hard I try, I just CANT get that A that I want. What should I do?

People have been telling me that I should simply concentrate on my studies for now. I'm worried though, because simply good grades are generally not enough to get you into the top colleges. My school requires 40 hours minimum of community service, so I'm pretty safe on that side. As for extra-curricular activities, I don't have anything right now, but I'm planning on joining the track team in the spring. I'm a pretty good guitar/piano player, though I doubt that will help much.

Got any tips?

Thanks for your question. I think everyone has known a teacher or professor who seems to refuse to give out an A on principle. No matter how hard you try, your grade just won’t budge. If you feel like you have been doing everything right, you might consider speaking to your English teacher privately about your grade in the class. I think being open and candid is the best way to approach this situation. Without being rude or whiny, ask what the deal is. You may say something like, “Based on my tests and quizzes, it seems like I should be doing better in your class than I am. Could we discuss where, in your opinion, my weaknesses lie? I’d really like to be doing better than I am and I’m having a hard time seeing where it is I’m falling short.”

If you're inquisitive and honest (rather than aggressive or hostile) your teacher is bound to see that you care about the class and genuinely want to do better. After the discussion, make an effort to connect with your teacher. Speak up more, spend more time on the assignments in order to be well-prepared for each class, and visit the teacher's office hours, if he holds them. Show your teacher that you're serious about earning that A. Your hard work and effort are sure to pay off.

I think it’s great that your school has a community service requirement. Getting involved with the track team is definitely a good move. If I were you I would stay focused on the grades (they are the most important thing, after all) and join the track team in the spring, as you mentioned. Once your schedule balances out in the spring, see if you can afford to take on another activity. If your grades are still pretty strong and you find that you’d like to get involved in something else, you might consider joining your school's marching band, jazz band, or orchestra.

Best wishes,

Tasha

To contact Tasha, email advice@sparknotes.com.

Topics: college admissions, mean teachers

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