Damage Control for Grades

In my last post, I talked about how things are winding down to the end of the school year, and that this is the time when people with ADD start to panic. They realize that suddenly “I’ve Got Plenty of Time” doesn’t apply anymore, and that in fact, they’ve got precious little time to pull their grades up before it’s too late. So, what do you do?

(Note: If you are the parent of a child with ADD, I strongly recommend that you go through this entire process together, and let them take the lead as much as you can. Even children as young as 9 or 10 can have some insights into where and why they are struggling and can come up with possible solutions. They should also be encouraged to participate in the meeting with the teacher, and to express themselves. One of the best things that you can do for your child is to teach them how to advocate for themselves.)

  • Start with a big dose of reality. This is damage control; you’re just trying to make the best of a bad situation at this point. If you’re failing the class now, it’s not likely that you can pull off an A before the end of the term. What you’re hoping for is a C, and what you may have to settle for is a D.
  • Next, assess your situation.
    • Do you know for sure that you’re failing, or is that a guess?
    • Do you know your grade percentage? If 60% is passing, and your grade is 58%, you’ve got a good chance. If it’s 25%, that may be another story.
    • Do you know why you’re failing? Is it poor test scores, not turning in your homework, or not understanding the material? (Note: “The teacher hates me” is not a valid excuse.) This is a really important thing to figure out; you can’t fix the problem if you really don’t know what it is.
  • Once you have a clear idea of what the problem is, see if you can come up with a way to fix it. I’ll post some specific ideas for that next time.
  • Put together a plan for improvement, including one or two creative ideas to bring your grade up. Again, more next time on those creative ideas.
  • Once you have a clear idea of where you went wrong and what you can do to fix it, ask the teacher for an appointment to discuss your grade. Be respectful of their time here – it will help you out. Don’t try and do this before or after class unless the teacher is willing.
  • Meet with the teacher and present your plan in a mature and respectful manner. Think of this as a business meeting and behave accordingly. There is a tendency to think of the teacher as the one with the power (which is true), but I find it is more helpful to think in business terms. Think of this meeting as presenting a proposal (which is what you’re doing), rather than as asking for a favor or special treatment. Be willing to listen to ideas the teacher may have regarding your grade.
  • If the teacher accepts your proposal, then go to it! Do everything in your power to keep your end of the bargain. This is where a coach could really help, by formulating a reasonable plan and helping you stick to it.
  • If the teacher rejects your plan – that is, they tell you that test scores or homework won’t be enough to salvage your grade, and they are unwilling to grant you extra credit – thank them for their time anyway, and then cut your losses. Spend the rest of the term doing the best you can in that class, but if you have other classes that need your attention as well (and you have a better chance at passing), then devote your extra energy to them. Keep in mind, though, that some teachers may be more open to helping you out if they see you really are serious about bringing your grades up.

Ultimately, school is about learning, not grades. Do what you can to get yourself out of hot water for now, but for the long term, you need to devise ways and strategies to be more successful and productive in your life, and to lessen your stress.A good coach, one who understands Attention Deficit Disorder, can do that for you. Give it some thought.

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About Brenda Nicholson

I am an ADHD Expert, Coach, and Consultant. I want you to learn how to celebrate your life with ADHD too.

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