We Americans love to talk about how much we value teachers and how important they are to our future as a leading nation in a global economy.
We routinely hold teacher appreciation days and honor teachers with gift, medals, and other nominal tokens of our gratitude. There’s no doubt we talk the talk, but we don’t always walk the walk when it really matters such as when pay day arrives, for instance. The reality is that if we want our students to make good grades, we have to hire good teachers. That is, if you want to know how to get good grades from students, you first have to know how to attract and retain good teachers. Unfortunately, with the current conditions surrounding public education in America, that’s becoming harder and harder to do.
The Relationship Between Good Grades and Good Money
The fact is—our teachers are grossly underpaid and unsupported. They often have to take funds from their own meager bank accounts to supply their classrooms with adequate resources and materials. Their income is only slightly above that of unskilled laborers, yet we demand more and more of their time and patience, filling their classrooms and schedules to the brim, all the while forcing them to prove their worth through accountability measures. Students hungry for the recipe of how to get good grades often slip through the cracks.
The Relationship Between Good Grades and Good Preparation
The imbalance between teacher pay and teacher expectations isn’t the only problem. Our teacher preparation programs are too lax and fail to adequately prepare beginning teachers for the realities and demands of the classroom. As a result, teacher retention has become a major problem. Faced with an overwhelming workload, unruly students, little support from school administration, and a paycheck that simply doesn’t make it worth their while, nearly half of beginning teachers quit the teaching profession during the first five years of their careers.
Because of the poor working conditions and inadequate compensation, it’s become harder and harder to attract good teachers to the field of education. Due to the great demand, schools have had to lower their standards for employment, allowing professionals from other industries to become teachers overnight, even without a degree in education.
How Other Countries Are Encouraging Good Grades
The countries that are leading the pack in education quality such as China, Singapore, and Finland know the importance of teacher quality and its impact on student grade improvement, and instead of just talking about it, they’re taking action. In these countries, getting into a teacher preparation program is nearly as difficult as getting into law school or medical school, and the acceptance rate ranges from a startling one in six to one in ten applicants. These teacher preparation programs are extremely rigorous, often requiring even would-be elementary teachers to major or minor in the subject they plan to teach. Many of these programs require the equivalent of a Master’s degree in education and a year’s internship with an experienced teacher before the new teacher is allowed in a classroom alone. Furthermore, a teacher’s salary in these top-performing countries is proportionately much higher than what we pay our teachers here, making it easier to attract good quality, talented professionals to the field. Having a teacher that’s intelligent, dedicated, and knowledgeable in the subject matter—now, that’s how to get good grades!
How Can A Student Make Good Grades Without a High Quality Teacher?
Sure, identifying the problem is the first step in solving it, but the solution requires an overhaul of our current federal education policy—a process that certainly won’t happen overnight. So, where does that leave today’s students who want to get better grades without the proper guidance? Luckily, there are some things you can do to help your children learn how to study better and how to get good grades even if they are receiving less than quality instruction during the school day:
Inspire their Creativity
In our highly competitive global marketplace, average just doesn’t cut it anymore. In order to be a leader, you have to think like one, and that means being able to solve problems and think outside of the box. Allow your children to explore their own interests and engage them in conversations that facilitate their curiosity and critical thinking skills. Too many parents talk to their children as if they were, well—children. If you talk to your child in your language about your interests and musings, they will soak it all up like a sponge. Before you know it, they’ll be asking you the thought-provoking questions. If you do this often enough, when it comes time for the test, they won’t need to know how to make good grades; it will just come naturally.
Show Them How to Study
Unfortunately, our school systems which center around high stakes testing have deprived our kids of learning how to study properly. Rote memorization and regurgitation of information does nothing to help kids truly comprehend and retain information for any significant amount of time. Reading, however, is the single best way to learn. Find out about what your children are learning at school and then provide them with supplementary reading materials so that they can learn as much about the subject as possible. Make an effort to look for books and articles that are not only informative, but engaging as well. The more interested your child is in the material, the better focused he will be as he reads, and the more he will understand the subject matter.
Seek Out Resources Online
There are many great educational resources online today including games, study tips, and even tutoring programs. The best tutoring and study programs offer information and services from highly qualified teachers who use research-backed methods to teach students only the best study methods and study techniques. Although some of these resources are free, online tutoring and complete study systems generally come with a fee. Before you pay for such a service, be sure that you do your homework, so to speak, to ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth. In addition to finding out exactly what each program offers, look for customer testimonials and statistics which show real results.
Certainly having a high-quality teacher who your child can learn from directly on a daily basis is the ideal scenario, but in reality, this isn’t always the case. While we’re continuing to push for reforms that will support teacher quality initiatives, it’s important to take matters into our own hands for our own kids as well. After all, there’s only one person who can ensure that your child doesn’t get left behind, and that’s you.