Thursday, December 19, 2013

How NOT to Ask Your Math Teacher for Extra Credit

How many times have you thought, “I could really use some extra credit before my test/progress report/final/report card”?  If the answer is more than once, read on to find out how NOT to ask for extra credit.

Being a math teacher, I often had students ask me for extra credit.  Sometimes I would allow it, but usually I would deny it because of one of the following reasons.

Don’t ask for extra credit the week before grades close.
I NEVER approved extra credit the week before grades close.  If you haven’t cared about your grade until now, it’s too late.  You have been aware of your grade the entire semester, do NOT wait until the last minute.  Teachers have way too much to grade at the end of the semester with out you putting in extra assignments. 

Don’t ask for extra credit if you have missing work.
You can’t get “extra” credit if you aren’t even getting credit on the assignments that were assigned to you.  Most likely the teacher will deny you and give you a list of your missing assignments to make up for partial credit.

Don’t ask for extra credit if you have tests that you haven’t made up.
This only applies if your teacher allows test make-ups, re-dos, or corrections.  Nothing angers an accommodating teacher more than asking for additional accommodations when you haven’t taken advantage of the ones that are already offered. 

Don’t ask for extra credit over email.
Generally speaking, teachers hate student emails.  Most likely your email will go unanswered.  Ask your teacher in person.  It’ll show you’re sincere and it means enough to you to approach the teacher on your own time (before school, at lunch, or after school).  If your teacher has office hours, then that is the best time to approach them.

Don’t ask for extra credit if you are a college student.
Ever. Just don’t.  Trust me.

Don’t ask for extra credit without an assignment in mind or already completed.
I hate the questions, “do you offer extra credit?” and “What can I do for extra credit?”  My reply will be, “you can earn full credit for the assignments I give you in the first place and study for the tests.” 

Examples of how to get extra credit:

  • A student mistakenly did WAY more work than was assigned over break.  She showed me the work and said “I know it is my fault for not reading the directions thoroughly, but this took me a really long time and I worked really hard on it, is there any way I could get credit for all the extra work I did?”  BAM extra credit.
  • A student did a project that was assigned but went WAY above and beyond.  It was beautiful.  I had never seen a high school project that was that detailed, organized, and showed such a high level of understanding.  BAM extra credit.  By the way, this student didn’t even ask for extra credit.
  • I had a student come up to me at the end of the semester and said, “I noticed my grade is an 89.4%.  I’ve been working very hard to get an A and I missed one homework assignment when I was sick.  Can you please print that out for me so I can complete it?” BAM excused assignment (not really the same as extra credit but still leads to the A).

Students and teachers:  Do you have any examples/suggestions on how not to ask for extra credit?

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