In fact, there is.
It’s begging season. Around this time of year students across the country get desperate. I teach between 300–500 students every semester. So any crazy life situation that only happens to 1 in 500 students, happens in my class… every semester. Even students with mundane explanations for their poor performance can ruin your day after they tell you all of the dire things that will happen to them once you submit their D or F. It’s awful. I became a teacher to help students achieve their dreams, not to see them fall away from them. It’s excruciating for me.
If you’ve taught more than one semester, you’ve had to deal with situations like this. Given how much I hate the social awkwardness of student begging, I’ve developed a 2 phase approach.
Phase 1: Inform Them Early
Two weeks before the end of the semester I run the grades for the class in Excel. Then I sort the grades and get the names/emails of everyone who has a 74% or below. All of these students get an email that informs them that they are “at risk” of earning a D or below and what they can do right now to improve their grade. See below and download the text of the email here.
Phase 2: Preempt the Begging
On the day that final grades are posted I send a class wide email thanking the students for a great semester and letting them no that there is no point to even asking for additional assignments or freebie points (or what I call “Just ’Cause Points”). I really tried to frame the email as a positive and explain that my unwillingness to change anyone’s grade stems from my desire to treat everyone in the class fairly. See below and download the text of the email here.
My plan isn’t fool proof and I still get a fair amount of emails from students that start with, “I know that you said you wouldn’t give out any extra makeup points, but I just can’t fail your course!” But, I get a lot less with my proactive approach.
To make this grade book double useful, create 4 columns using Excel to calculate how many points it would take each student to earn an A, B, C, and D. That way if a student asks, "Is it possible for me to get a(n) _ grade you can quickly look and tell them. ↩