Talking about grades

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Talking about grades

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When your child comes home with a report card or when your child comes home with a bad grade on a test or a bad grade on a test or a paper; how you talk about that is really important. If they feel like they are not pleasing you, if they feel like they are going to be letting your down or if they tie grades to love; that is a problem. You want to be sure that you let them know that they know that you love them unconditionally, no matter what grades they get. You want to focus on effort and mastery of the material, instead of performance; instead of someone else's opinion of how they did. Let's take an example, when your younger kids get report cards, there is no need for them to even see the report card. There is no need for you to show them that they got a check plus or a three or an A. You want to tell them, "Your teacher says you are doing wonderfully. I'm so glad you are a great helper or a great friend. Keep up the great work." "You should be proud of yourself for the hard work." When your kids get to Middle School and High School, they are, obviously, know their grades. Again, you want to make sure it's the mantra, it's not about the grades, it's about the learning. You want to say, "Do you think this is a fair assessment? I know that you have been working hard, if you feel that's a fair assessment, I'm so proud of you and you should be proud of yourself for the good effort and learning that's been going on." If they come home with a bad grade, your first reaction is so important. You can't say, "Oh my gosh, now you are going to fail the class," or "Oh my gosh, now you are not going to get into college." Your reaction should be, do you feel this is fair and what can you do to put in the grade you feel you deserve.

Watch Video: Talking about grades by Denise Pope, PhD, ...

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Denise Pope, PhD

Senior Lecturer & Author

Denise Pope, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer at the Stanford University School of Education. For the past 13 years, she has specialized in student engagement, curriculum studies, qualitative research methods, and service learning. She is co-founder of Challenge Success, a research and intervention project that aims to reduce unhealthy pressure on youth and champions a broader vision of youth success. Challenge Success is an expanded version of the SOS: Stressed-Out Students project that Dr. Pope founded and directed from 2003-2008. She lectures nationally on parenting techniques and pedagogical strategies to increase student health, engagement with learning, and integrity. Her book, Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students was awarded Notable Book in Education by the American School Board Journal, 2001. Dr. Pope is a three time recipient of the Stanford University School of Education Outstanding Teacher and Mentor Award.  Prior to teaching at Stanford, Dr. Pope taught high school English in Fremont, CA and college composition and rhetoric courses at Santa Clara University. She lives in Los Altos, CA with her husband and three children.

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