assessment, being a teacher, change, Student-centered

Why Giving Second Chances Should be Second Nature

We have all had the phone call, “Tommy studied so hard but didn’t do very well on the test, is there anything we can do?”  How many of us have said, “No, sorry…”  I know I used to.  I used to be the queen of no extra credit, no re-takes, no second chances.  That is until then I realized how this didn’t reflect adult life.  In my job I get second chances all of the time.  If a lesson doesn’t go as planned, I re-do it or teach it again.  I don’t get observed only once to have my teaching career decided but instead multiple times by various people. If we have a bad day, we go back, fix it, and then move forward.  Every single day I get to learn from my mistakes. So why is it we are so hellbent on not giving our students the same second chance?  Yes, I know that standardized tests have inane rules we have to follow, but nothing else does.  We decide the rules and for some reason a lot of the time those rules do  not involve allowing students to learn from their mistakes mistakes.

Last year, my students got to fix everything they handed in.  Stupid mistakes became teaching moments, sloppy work was enhanced, and gaps of knowledge were filled in.  It was certainly more work for me, but what it taught the kids was invaluable; perseverance, dedication, and not being afraid to try something.  More learning occurred in my room last year than ever before.  And this year is no different, my students give me their best and then we figure out how to learn even more.  By giving them second chances, they are proving to me how much they really know, outside of the anxiety, the pressure, and the rigidity that can occur. So why not try it?  Give your students back that test and tell them to fix it, give them back their work and tell them to enhance it.  Give them another chance to learn.

6 thoughts on “Why Giving Second Chances Should be Second Nature”

  1. Pernille,I totally agree with you on allowing students to further their learning and growth by making improvements and modifications to their completed work. Providing our students the second (or more) chances they need to complete the learning cycle are absolutely crucial. Think about some of the most prominent tests: driving test, ACT, and any and all professional job tests, they each allow candidates to take them as many times as needed in order to pass. My only question about your post would be about "extra credit." I hear many teachers offering extra credit for things that have nothing to do with learning or the content of the class. While we use grades (which I would like to see eliminated), I think that grades should reflect ability and growth, not their parent's ability to buy Kleenexes or markers for the class.Thanks for another great post!

  2. Thank you Justin for your real world examples of how we are giving second chances all the time. And thank you also for bringing up extra credit, I do not advocate for extra credit, I don't think there is any need for it. When students need to continue working on their task they work on the same task. It all ties in with my belief about grades being unnecessary to show growth. Thank you for bringing this to light!

  3. Mrs. Ripp, I think allowing students to resubmit their work is a fantastic way to help students develop better work ethic and increase understanding of the things they didn't get the first time around. Although the grading process will be more time consuming, I plan to employ your methods in my future classroom. As an educator I want to make sure that my students are afforded every opportunity to learn.

  4. I'm afraid your examples just prove to me how education is not like real life. In my husband's job as a landscape contractor, if he botches a landscape installation, or even if his men botch a mowing job one time, he can lose a customer. In my previous life, I worked as a market research manager for a management consulting firm. If our project report was poor then we would not get additional business from that client. No second chances! I can think of many examples when something simply has to be done right the first time every time. Right now, I am a mother and I work as an education aide for a school district which has second chance learning. Sometimes it is used well as you describe for students who are motivated to make up the learning they missed the first time around. Many times it is just watered down. If the students are going to be given an infinite number of chances to learn why not just help them a little bit on the second time around? Or even the first time around? I see teachers providing prompts and assistance to the point that the testing is meaningless. The grades these students receive are meaningless (which in turn makes all the other grades meaningless). Many students have been so filled with praise for mediocre achievents that they are shocked when they run up against something that does not go their way easily. I see high school students who still have not made the connection between effort and results. Second chance learning does not reflect real life. The DMV is a poor example of how to run one's life life as anyone who has sat there for any length of time can tell you. And ACT and SAT are tests you pay for. The Educational Testing Service is a business which is in business to make money and they don't care if you are successful in life or not, but they WILL take your money. How about we ask students to do their best? The distractions they are facing now are nothing compared to what they will face in the future. We are the adults remember? We are supposed to be giving them perspective on things not the other way around. We are supposed to say "these things are important. Facebook, video games on your phone (in classs no less) are not important. Knuckle down and do the work."These are the people who will be taking care of you in your old age. Do you really want it to be someone who couldn't pass some basic tests?

  5. Dear Anonymous, Thank you so much for your great comment, I have mulled over it for a while. I think you bring up great points about accountability and having a deadline etc. And yes, we must teach students how to succeed with these requirements. This post was more of a discussion (for me anyway) on how we often say one and done whereas in many jobs you would have the opportunity to have someone else evaluate your work before it is done, thus being given a second chance. I know when my husband, who is a project manager, is about to wrap up a project, his team goes through it with him, checking everything. Students do not get that option often on tests or work. Some teachers do not want parents to help with work so that they can see what a child knows but then marks down the homework when it is not perfect (even though homework is meant to be practice).In the end, I hope that teachers evaluate each situation and do not have a one and done cut and dry rule. Of course, there needs to be a finish point, an accountability piece just like in adult jobs, but we should also be trying to emulate the team approach that many adults have in their jobs in order to get students better equipped to use them.thank you so much for your comment.

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