The power of a second chance

Every teacher has unique techniques and methods of passing knowledge on to the students. We approach our students in different ways. This is relative to our beliefs about teaching and our views in general. It is also related to our personality traits. One of the most prominent features of my character is empathy. I hate to see my students frustrated or desperate, and I hate to see them fail. It breaks my heart to give bad grades. Not that I never fail my students; I sometimes have to, but then I give them a second chance because I believe it is my responsibility and their prerogative.

From my experience, most students appreciate it when we make it possible for them to try again. It has a drawback though; it is time-consuming and it makes me busier because I have more tests to correct. But it is worth the extra effort since the kids feel I care and they ‘pay me back’ in many ways. First, they use the opportunity to improve their results and they learn. And that’s one of our goals – to make our students learn. I don’t force them though; they are free to keep their poor marks. Believe it or not, they rarely want to. Second, they feel motivated and they feel more relaxed about tests because they know that they will get a chance to do better if they fail. Some might object that students won’t try hard enough, but honestly, nobody wants to sit two exams or write two tests voluntarily and everybody wishes to succeed in the first one. Third, as my students know that I care, they care too. I know this because I get a lot of positive feedback, especially from the youngest ones, who are open and not afraid to express their feelings.

I believe that if students are treated with empathy, they will become better learners. Some might abuse our generosity but that’s life. We must be patient and tolerant. No matter if the students use the opportunity or miss it, by giving them a second chance we will show them that all we wish is their success – we’ll show them that we are their allies, not enemies, as they sometimes think.

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About Hana Tichá

I'm an EFL teacher based in the Czech Republic. I've been teaching English to learners of all ages for more than 20 years. I love metaphors and inspiring discussions concerning teaching, learning and linguistics.
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