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

Posted by on June 16, 2014

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each week, 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 Mulligan–a do-over for you non-golfers. 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 second chance 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 strong and confident 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.

BTW, there are some pretty good tech tip people out there on the internet:

  • One of my favorites is Tammy Worcester because she is so thorough in her explanations. I saw her at a conference and she was as good in person as on the internet.
  • Also visit Kim at USA Today. She covers all sorts of topics I don’t.

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More on problem solving:

I Can Solve That Problem…

Tech Tip #88: 20 Techie Problems Every Student Can Fix


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.


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

  1. bruce thomas witzel

    When I was a youngster in the 60’s, I was considered “slow'” and removed from the regular classroom with some special activities made available for one year- especially art related. It was called Division X. I am always grateful for that opportunity. Sort of a one year mulligan! I admire your teaching approach Jacqui and I’m grateful there are others like yourself committed to give kids extra help or a second chance.

    • Jacqui

      Long ago, I read Born on a Blue Day, Daniel Tammet’s autobiography. It had a huge impact on me. On the outside, Daniel might appear slow, but his teachers never judged him, just taught him from where he was, who he was. I have tried to live up to that with my students–let them be themselves and find their way. It’s not my place to shape them in my own image.

      I love that phrase–a one-year mulligan. I could use one of those! Thanks for commenting, Bruce.

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