The Gift of a Second Chance

Nancy - Fayetteville, North Carolina
Entered on January 21, 2009

The Gift of a Second Chance

I believe in the gift of a second chance.

When I was in college, I failed an English paper. I had never made an F on a writing assignment, and because I was planning to be an English teacher, I was devastated. When I talked to my professor about the paper, he explained what I had done wrong and gave me the opportunity to rewrite the paper. As I was leaving his office, he said that when I resubmitted the paper, he would give me the grade on the revised paper, and he would erase the F in his grade book. I couldn’t believe it. He was giving me a second chance.

The next semester I failed a math test. After the professor returned the tests, he announced that most of the class had failed the test, so he was going to give a retest. Once again I was being given a second chance to pass. I would like to say that I made a 95 on the retest, but I didn’t. After all my extra studying, I made a 55 on the retest, just one point higher than my first grade. Although I was disappointed that I had not passed the second test, I was still happy that I had been given a second chance to improve my grade.

I am now an English teacher at a private university. For the past twenty years, I have continued the legacy of giving second chances to my students. If a student fails a paper, I schedule a conference, explain what the student needs to do to pass the paper, and let him or her rewrite the assignment. I usually say, “I’m giving you a second chance to pass this paper. When you rewrite the paper, I’ll give you that grade, and I won’t count the first grade.” With additional help, most students pass the paper and lay the groundwork for future success. If a student has overcut my class and is going to be withdrawn for excessive absences, I allow the student to remain in the class, if he or she agrees to attend every class for the remainder of the semester. Although some students miss another class and are withdrawn, most students attend the rest of the classes and are able to finish the course, so they don’t have to repeat it the next semester.

From my best professors, I inherited the gift a giving a second chance, and I have continued the practice with my students. When my students have the opportunity, I believe they will give a second chance to someone who needs, but does not necessarily deserve, it.