classroom management / critical thinking / problem solving / Tech Tips

Tech Tip #90: Don’t Be Afraid of Mulligans

tech tipsAs a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q:Some kids are hard workers, but they just don’t get computers. Their effort deserves a good grade, but their product is nowhere near class requirements. What can I do?

A: Don’t be afraid to give students a do-over. Some students don’t perform well under the pressure of a deadline. Some are so sure they’re no good at technology, that becomes their reality. Offer students a do-over if they’ll work with you after school. I have had countless students over twelve years take advantage of this and come out after a few of those sessions as strong, confident students in class. All they had to see was that they could do it. Maybe some simple phrasing confused them and you can clear that up. Maybe the noise of a full class distracted them. Whatever it is, if you can show them how to find alternatives, solve their problems, they can apply that to technology class and other classes. Most of the students I help 1:1 only need a few projects and then I never see them again for help. In fact, their confidence is so improved, they often are the kids who come in during lunch to offer assistance to other struggling students.

The question I usually get when I mention this to teachers at training seminars is, how do you have time? Truth: Not that many kids take advantage of my offer. That’s OK. There are lots of reasons why they don’t and I’m not here to judge. The ones that do–I have plenty of time for. Go ahead. Try it. I bet you have the same experience. If not, please drop by and let me know.

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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2 thoughts on “Tech Tip #90: Don’t Be Afraid of Mulligans

  1. It is time-consuming holding one-to-one teaching sessions in your personal time, but I like your approach a lot. It’s exceptionally time-consuming when the sessions are mandatory (something that happened at the Uni where I formerly worked – poor-doers were mandated to take extra classes in the summer in their failing topics – something that added hours upon hours of extra work each week for the professors who were forced to train them. But when it’s optional, the benefit is doubled – the kids who really want to be there will get so much out of your training sessions. They’ll do well, and you probably feel so rewarded when you see them do better as a result.

    • You hit probably what is the key part: It was optional. I get only students who want to improve their grade. Those that are satisfied, no need. I understand that. I put only what was necessary into art because it wasn’t my thing, so the students who are just getting by in tech–I get it. The others though, that want to excel but find it a bit more difficult, I’ll do everything I can to help.

      Do you still teach?

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