Unlike our archaic, end-of-semester report cards, online portals now keep parents and students updated with every assignment grade entered. This constantly-updating force is great for accountability, and terrible for anxiety. The ability to check grades at all times is accompanied by an increase in conflict between students and parents. Minute-by-minute updates create so much tension in our community! How do we use portals as a positive resource and not let them negatively dictate the atmosphere of a household?
Avoiding the Slide
This is a time of the semester when we see a few big projects and test grades hit the portals, and it can be the start of a slide that lasts past one individual instance. If your student’s grades start to slip, take note and see what systems are failing. Are routines not being followed? Are they straying from their weekly plan, procrastinating on large projects, or not studying enough for major assessments? Tweak these systems while it’s still early in the semester so that your student can reestablish their good routine habits before midterms come around. This time of year is crucial: if your student is stuck practicing bad habits now, it’s infinitely harder to raise their grades as the semester progresses.
Process over Product
“Bad” grades have the power to set the tone of parent/student relationships if viewed through the wrong lens. So many assumptions can accompany a 62% on a test: many jump to conclusions about student laziness or lenient parenting. Those are the last things we look at or assume when we see a bad grade. At Untapped, we like to say, process over product. We want to make sure all the pillars are in place to set students up for success. First, we look at the prep that went into the assignment, project, or test in question. How was the student studying? Did they utilize office hours with teachers for review? These questions need to be asked in order to gauge the process. The product will improve when the process is strong. It’s not always easy, but patience is key. Patience means knowing that students will fail, but what are we learning from the failures so we can adjust the process for the next big assignment?
Establish clear expectations
Make sure your student knows what your expectations are for grades and more importantly, for effort. Receiving a C on a test they studied well for is completely different than receiving a C on a test they didn’t prepare for at all. Every assignment and assessment is different for each class. Hold your student accountable for bad grades when they don’t put in the effort they should, and work with them to adjust their processes when they did put the effort in but the grade doesn’t reflect that.
Last tip: Turn off portal notifications – no one benefits
from checking those websites multiple times a day!