My Students All Get an “A” Grade

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 July 2015 12:52 Written by Pam Chambers Saturday, 2 March 2013 12:07

I saw a video about a conductor and music teacher named Benjamin Zander who gives his students an “A” the minute they enter his classroom. He tells them that they all have a “A” and that their final assignment will be to write an essay explaining how they earned it. I loved that idea and have tried it with two groups: my students in the Hogan Entrepreneur Program at Chaminade University, and my students in my most recent Level I Presentation Course. Here is Rosella’s essay, shared with her permission:


by Rosella Shishido

Getting an “A” for this Presentation Course on our very first class was an unexpected but gladly received merit for me. All of a sudden, it became a goal. “I’ve got to deserve that A,” I thought to myself. And being the task-oriented person that I am, I aimed for that A like a marksman would for the bull’s eye.

As I write this six weeks later, I recount how much time and effort I’ve devoted to this course, and, modesty aside, I can say that I have earned that A.

I have learned to stop focusing on negative thoughts about public speaking. I have learned to be open to feedback and apply the constructive criticisms I received from the class after speaking exercises.

I deserve the A because I now believe I have something valuable to say that will benefit at least one person in the audience. I don’t have to have a written script of my talk. I can prep for it instead by drawing and coloring my bullet points to help me internalize what I want to say.

I deserve the A because I learned that when I’m presenting, I don’t have to carry the load of my talk’s success all by myself. I can share the load with my audience by involving them.

I had signed up for this course to help me face and overcome my fear of public speaking. I can’t say that I’m all there yet, but I’m getting there.







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