DR. WALLACE: I have a real problem with one of my teachers at our high school. I feel he shows favoritism toward certain students, and I feel that I’m not getting the grade I deserve because I’m basically quiet and don’t say much in class. But even though I don’t say much, I don’t get into any trouble either. I always have my homework assignments completed on time, and I do quite well on all of our tests and quizzes in this class.
Right now, it looks like I’m getting a B+ grade, but I feel that I deserve at least an A- grade based upon my solid performances on the tests, quizzes and homework. Our teacher posts “interim” grades every two weeks and I’ve been stuck at a B+ grade for months now.
I feel I’m getting a lesser grade because I’m a quiet, unassuming student who does not play sports or participate in our high school’s student council.
My parents have told me that they will approach the school principal on my behalf if I feel that becomes necessary. What do you advise I do in my situation? — Deserving of a Higher Grade, via email
DESERVING OF A HIGHER GRADE: Before you even consider having your parents approach your school principal, I recommend that you spend time first communicating with your teacher during his office hours, outside of your classroom. Talk with him about your situation but keep the focus only on yourself. Don’t mention other students but instead ask him what his overall criteria is for his grading system in his classes. Explain that you feel you are achieving results at a very high level that deserve an A or at least an A- grade, but that you’re currently standing at a B+ grade in his class.
One area I can think of that may enhance your situation is to take a more active role in classroom participation. Ask your teacher if participating in class is part of your grade. If it is, explain how important receiving at least an A- grade is to you, and ask your teacher to call on you in class regularly so that you can fully participate in all relative classroom discussions. Since you know the subject matter so well, this should be quite positive for your overall grade positioning.
In any event, having your teacher explain thoroughly his comprehensive view on grading criteria should be quite enlightening for you. Consider this discussion first before your parents take any actions. After this meeting, go home and discuss the matter at length with your parents as well. It could be that just taking the time to meet your teacher one-on-one and explain yourself will elevate your profile positively in his class. This truly could be the difference maker between ending the school year with an A- or a B+ grade.
I’M WORRIED ABOUT MY SISTER
DR. WALLACE: I’m 14 and I overheard my 19-year-old sister tell her friend on the telephone that her boyfriend was abusing her emotionally. My older sister lives at home with my parents, me and our other two siblings.
What does she mean by “emotional” abuse? Can I help her with this? Should I say anything to my mom or my dad? — Confused Younger Brother, via email
CONFUSED YOUNGER BROTHER: Emotional abuse can often be just as dangerous as physical abuse within an interpersonal relationship. There are many types, with the most common being demanding control of another’s clothing choices, actions, words, appearance and ability to freely meet with other people. This usually leads to verbal belittlement, verbal threats, belittlement, extreme jealousy and the threat of physical violence, even if no physical violence has occurred yet in the past.
Typically, males are more prone to inflicting emotional abuse on partners, but some females do this as well. In your sister’s case, she may be tracked as to her whereabouts constantly and also kept away from her personal friends. These types of situations rarely end well.
You should absolutely let your parents know what you heard right away. Your sister’s safety depends on this. If you’re worried that your sister will learn that it was you who informed your parents, simply ask your parents to please keep you out of this entirely. They can simply say that it has come to their attention from a trusted source, and they can focus on speaking with your sister right away so that they can help her. Take action right away here to help your sister.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.