• October 2, 2023

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you work hard and still don’t get the grade you were after? It can be especially frustrating because everyone from your teachers to your parents to guidance counselors says the same thing: “work hard and you’ll do better.”

So, what is up with you and these grades, anyway?! Why aren’t they going up!?

I can tell you right away that there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re not your grades, and there are a couple of steps that you can take to improve your grades no matter how bad the situation appears to be.

If you’re wondering how I can be so sure, stick with me to the end of this article and find out.

How Learning Happens

Learning happens in slightly different ways for everyone. However, at the core is a simple process that begins with an experience. Teachers create experiences based on topics or subjects and expose their students to these experiences.

How quickly you can absorb and understand that experience depends on several factors. These factors include;

  • Intellectual factors
  • Teaching factors, e.g., the teacher’s ability to teach new material in class
  • Emotional/social factors, e.g., the student’s emotional state or ability to interact with other students
  • Physical factors
  • The learning environment

You might think that some of these factors are outside your control, and you would be right. That’s why you need this simple trick to change the game completely. With this trick in the bag, it doesn’t matter which factors are outside your control because you can find your way around them.

The Trick About Learning Anything

That there’s a trick does not mean it’ll be easy or require zero effort from you. Nope, it means that you can get where you want to go faster when you keep the trick in mind.

So, better grades, better study sessions, better personal learning and development outcomes, you name it, become more manageable when you realize that…

Learning builds on itself.

It is a simple sentence, but it will take several steps to apply it to your learning. When I say that learning builds on itself, I mean that becoming excellent at what you’ve learned is cumulative. Great grades do not happen the minute you learn something new.

Learning Math… And Any Other Subject

Learning Math

Math is the usual enemy for many students at elementary and high school levels. It can be tough to wrap your head around Algebra 1 & 2, Pre-Calculus & Calculus, Geometry. It’s probably not just math that you struggle with in school; the list could go on.

Something that might interest you about how a school curriculum is designed: a curriculum in any subject starts with the easy stuff. It builds on every previous class to reach the hard stuff. It’s common because teachers and learning specialists understand that learning needs to start small and build.

How do you imagine that you can make sense of more things in twelfth grade than you were able to in fifth grade?

The compound effect of learning the easy stuff first and building what you know to the hard stuff.

The most complex classes in Algebra and Geometry begin with learning that 1+1=2 (number sense) and the names of shapes such as squares, triangles, circles, and rectangles.

The Trick Works Every Time

Remember those factors that influence how you absorb (i.e., learn) new experiences; it becomes apparent how you can use them. Many of my students learn at different speeds, through different emotional states, and no matter the learning environment. They know this, their parents know this, and I know this. We never forget that learning is building, and no matter how slowly we build, we keep building, and we keep learning.

What does all this have to do with your grades?

Your assessment is what gives your grades, and assessments are simply assessing what you have learned. Think of it this way, you’re the lead construction worker on your project, and every week or so, your supervisor calls you to report what’s been built so far.

Some school assessments are far from perfect, and yes, they might not help you represent your learning as well as you would like. You should keep in mind that you are not your grades. Learning builds on itself, and you have to keep building to improve your grades. This sometimes means going back and relearning information that you didn’t quite internalize the first time. Yes this means you are studying something you might not even be tested on BUT learning builds on itself and you can’t skip the fundamentals (especially when it comes to math and phonics). Find out what learning factors help you acquire knowledge, find your gaps, and do some patch work. The grades wont go up right away, but you will be on the right track. And remember, YOU ARE NOT YOUR GRADES.

I hope this helps!

Desmond utilizes his knowledge of education policy from his undergrad, his Masters of Education from Johns Hopkins, and a variety of advanced certifications such as CHPC and LWT to construct prime academic intervention programs and homework/executive functioning support for all his students.

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