|photo credit: Chapendra via photopin cc|
You are too nice when it comes to second-chances with students.
And perhaps, from their perspective, I am. My deadline is the end of the term for my classes. Until then, I will work with kids at their own pace. And sometimes, a student gets behind a chapter or two. There's lots of reasoning for this...illness, family issues, transfer to a new school, or apathy. But it translates in the same way--a loss of hope.
So I respond. It means I teach differently. It DOES NOT mean that I don't teach.
All kids need relationships. Some kids need logical consequences. Having a backlog of work CAN be a logical consequence. And I happen to believe that holding them accountable, meeting at McDonald's or Skyping online is just as logical as letting them off the hook by entering zeroes in the grade book.
Most of the students who have this behavior suffer from self-esteem issues. Until the learner realizes that learning comes from the inside, they will simply use my content presentation as a garbage-in-garbage-out memorization exercise. First and foremost, I try to work on relationship with the kids, and a reassuring belief that they CAN do things. And that has made a difference for more than 95% of the students I have taught.
My students have to demonstrate competency in their knowledge through projects and reflection, which has been a building process for more than 15 years of my career. I won't budge on that. They have to do the work. I remember that Einstein was considered an imbecile in grade school because he didn't do the work. I notice that Bill Gates never finished college.
When a student gets behind, I meet with him or her. I talk to guidance. I call parents. I send the kid a message via social media. But the underlying message, regardless of whether they choose to make up the material is: #youmatter. It's not simple. It's not easy. It requires a different time frame, and sometimes it means those kids stay after school to make up material they could have chosen to do during the industrially-scheduled time. It also allows me to be able to tell the student that this is not a chance that will always happen in her life, and that it should not be a repeated occurrence; sometimes, they have failed for so long that they don't realize this is a choice.
Regardless of the content knowledge, my hope is that students will walk out of the classroom with two main ideas:
- problem-solving and critical thinking are necessary and possible
- how you treat others matters
Let's have this conversation. If I can instill some self-belief, hope, and intrinsic learning skills, I'll let someone else be the go-to person on rules and regulations and preparing students for punching a clock. In the long run, I know we want productive employees. But really, until those kids believe in themselves, is that even possible?