A simple formula for getting good grades in English class
Parents, let me guess — you want to help your teen earn better grades in school. But, you don’t know how to ease the struggle with English class and even college admissions. You know you need to do something to help your teen feel successful and reach their potential. Does this sound familiar? If you said “yes”, then keep reading…getting good grades in English class can be simple and we show you how!
Our very own Joe – a Total Writing Enrichment tutor – is here to help us with some of his best tips. As a successful college junior, he is uniquely qualified to help us guide our teens and appreciates the struggle for many high school students. Here’s what Joe has to share:
Thinking back to the English classes I took in high school and comparing them to the courses I take now as a junior in college, I found a tried-and-true formula for essay success.
In outlining this list of tips, I found my eyes rolling at the simplicity of the process.
I will admit, that I struggled with English class for my first two years in high school; I felt unmotivated in putting the proper effort in to earn a solid grade. Over time, my attitude began to change. The catalyst for this change did not start from improving my reading comprehension or increasing the amount of novel annotations, but from being more social during class…
Can you even imagine?
English, as a subject, is unique. While math, history, and sciences usually have a straightforward answer, English comes down to relating to author’s experiences to your own. How does the work relate to your struggles growing up? Your outlook on life? How do others fit into your life?
With all of these small unwritten rules of writing, the subject is inherently complex and tends to intimidate students. I believe that although writing is derived from oneself, the entire process should cause you to reach out to others, and to collaborate with others – which leads to my first tip – have a buddy in English class.
Tip #1 – Have a buddy in English class.
The decision to connect with a peer in a high school English class gave me many small but essential wins. In my sophomore year, when I opened up to making new friends in class, I also opened up to talking more during English class and almost instantly my world and grades improved. I made connections with classmates and my teacher, which allowed for easier conversations, constructive criticism, and collaboration. We would talk about how we each interpreted reading assignments, and small miracles would occur, like simply finding that one word I forgot that’s on the tip of your tongue when writing emerged.
The words began to flow
I began to picture what were once complicated plot twists and abstract ideas clearly in my mind, – the results startled me. I quickly leaned into the benefits of connections, communication, and collaboration. This tip ranks the most important because it opened a myriad of doors which came as a natural by-product of talking to the student sitting next to, in front of, or beside me and raising my hand more during class. In no way should you abuse this, but failing to prepare is preparing to fail, and you never know when something will come up out of the blue.
Tip #2 – Create a nice, professional relationship with your teacher.
Yes, I know this can seem daunting and sometimes outright impossible. However, if you remove the word “teacher” or “strict grader” and add “a person” or “a person trying to expand my mind and skills,” I guarantee you will get more positive results in class.
Ask your teacher questions, both about the book, essay, or class discussion as well as about the teacher’s family or a fun topic brought up earlier in the week like a football game or even, if it comes to it, the weather. Go to see your teacher during office hours, before school, during lunch, or after school – I promise those extra 5-10 minutes of focused conversation will eventually raise your grades and could even result in a letter of recommendation!
My overall advice for improving your English grade is to get ahead in small ways. See what work you can put in that supplements just reading the book, annotating, and cranking out an essay. Try to create connections with your classmates and teachers. My timid hand raises quickly evolved to confident comments after I saw my classmates agree with most of my opinions.
English teachers especially enjoy a genuine relationship with a student and I found seeking help outside of class led to the most direct improvement of not just my essay grades, but the overall quality of my writing. English is not straightforward, as in, there can be many different explanations, so going to the person who will directly read your ideas and get their perspective goes a wonder for the long journey of essay development.
** Joe has 3 more tips coming up, so stay tuned for our next blog and learn how to quickly and easily boost your grade and get that ‘A’!