The roles that high school teachers play in the lives of their students are many and varied. As well as imparting practical knowledge on the core school subjects teachers can do many things for their students. Teachers are often concerned that their students do not care about school. High school teachers would like to know how to get students to care about grades. Where can you find the switch on each student that you can flick to the ‘care’ position? If you really feel it is worthwhile then there is an answer.
The answer is that there is no switch on the student. The switch is in the teacher. You get students to care about grades. Note that it’s not “You get them to care” it’s “You get them to care”. Teachers need to do the work in order to encourage change in students. Think about it this way. You can ask a student to stand up and they may or may not but when you ask them to care about grades it will never have an effect. It’s the same when you hear someone say “How can I get that person to love me?” It doesn’t work that way, you don’t do something to the other person to make them change their emotions; you do it through your own actions.
High school teachers need to realize that to get students to care about grades the students need to care about themselves. The teacher is in a great position to explain to students that the person who is going to have the greatest affect on them is themselves. Make the students understand that there are many years ahead that depend on them being able to support themselves and others. Help them understand that the time to start being good at things is now. It’s not too important what you are good at in high school but it’s extremely important to be capable of being good at something. Once students prove to themselves that they can be good at one thing then they can be confident of being good at another.
Show your students that the quality of life in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s can depend on what they do when they are 16, 17 and 18. Help your students care about their future selves. Say something every day in your lessons that reminds them of the value of schoolwork. Tell them about the cost of a lost lesson due to interruptions. It’s not just the cost of the school and the teachers that the taxpayer and parents contributed to; more importantly it’s the loss to the futures of everyone in the class. Tell them about the value of learning to achieve. They may not particularly care about your subject but tell them if they can earn a good grade they will also have learned to achieve. Learning to achieve is the best thing anyone can learn.
Help high school students to care about grades by reinforcing your message every day. Doing it once at the beginning of the year is no good, it’s like saying to someone “Love me”. Do things that show you care about them and about their futures. Most likely as a high school teacher you are already going beyond the call of duty, you’re probably reading this from home after school. Point out those things to your students. They don’t notice Mrs. Jones spending all her free time on the school musical; explain that she does this to give her students a sense of achievement.
You already care about the future of your students, explain that to them and explain that they should care too.