Normally at the end of semester, there are always a couple of students begging for better grades. Let me just list a few sample cases:
Case 1: I worked really hard during the semester. I attended all lectures and recitations and did all homework assignments and practice exam problems. I just failed to do well in the exam because of my anxiety.
Case 2: I had some health/family issues in this semester, feeling depressed for a while.
Case 3: I need XXX GPA in order to maintain my financial support. If my grade falls below XXX then I will lose my financial support and have to drop out of school.
Because letter grades are in United States and there is a little bit grey area of upgrading one's letter grade if their percentage grade are really close to that. But certainly there are students whose grade is 87% but want to get A (with percentage grade cutoff being 90%) or whose grade is 57% but still want to pass this class (60%).
When they describe their situation in a very miserable way like in the case 2 and 3 above, it is very difficult for me to simply say "No" although this is a common practice for most professors. Moreover, some students will keep emailing you or telling you in face about their situation, with an intention to give professor some sort of ``pressure". If one says NO before the teaching evaluation due, then it seems that they are really going to write a bad comment.
So, as experience teachers, what are your appropriate/smart ways (without being too hurtful to them) to decline students' requests of "begging for better grades" at the end of the semester?
I am an instructor in mathematics where there is little grey area in grading, but please feel free to talk about your teaching areas.
As an uncommon practice, one of my colleagues wrote in their syllabus for the course they taught explicitly something like "Please DO NOT ask me questions on how the grades will be curved or ask for better grades at the end of the semester. Your grades are determined by your demonstrated performance not your self-claimed effort". However, he cares less about teaching and is not a popular professor.