Extra credit is a beast to be reckoned with. I’ve talked with multiple colleagues who find that extra credit takes over their grade book, and students seem more interested in doing extra credit than in doing the regular classroom assignments. Another common problem they’ll note is students expecting, begging, or guilt-tripping them into coming up with an extra credit assignment for some reason such as a pending grade check or ultimatum from their parents.
Look, givers have to set limits because takers never do. As the teacher, you are the only one who can set boundaries in your classroom and teach students to respect them. In my experience, once students learn that extra credit is an option, they stop valuing classroom work and start prowling for extra credit. Unfortunately, this often removes student focus from your content.
My biggest tip to teachers regarding extra credit is to plan what extra credit opportunities will be available to students at the beginning of the school year, state them in your syllabus, and stick to them. Then, as you consider offering extra credit for a given task, ask yourself these three questions: 1) Is it equitable? 2) Is it rewarding academic habits? 3) Is it a reasonable addition to my grading load?
1) Is it equitable? First and foremost, I firmly believe that a student’s grade should be an accurate reflection of their abilities, and not of their socio-economic status. Therefore, as tempting as it is to get students to bring in Kleenexes and Expo markers for extra credit, I don’t go there. This is not an equal opportunity for all students when there are students receiving support to get their own supplies covered. Additionally, many students work or have family responsibilities in the evenings and on weekends, so for that reason I also do not offer extra credit for attending shows, speeches, or extra events of that sort.
2018 has come, and right alongside it, the creation of this website. My husband and I are seeking a balance between growing this business, growing our family, and growing as teachers. One of our resolutions as a couple is to contribute to a website to support all three of those growth areas. So, without further ado, here goes the first blog post.
I always find myself in a funny place at the beginning of the calendar year while in the middle of the school year. There is some closure with the end of a semester, but there is still so much to be done before spring and summer breaks. It’s unresolved, and a bit untidy.
However, as a teacher of literature, I have to remember that this gray area is where I get to bring in my own interpretation and spin on things. This space between two semesters is a space to refocus and reflect while still having the opportunity to bring that perspective and growth mindset to the same group of students I had first semester. I almost always bite off more than I can chew, but my Pinterest quote board proclaims that “All great changes are preceded by chaos,” so I tell myself I must be on to something great.