Normally, my blogs focus on my sophomores trialing the ROLE approach, but this time I wanted to discuss something about my freshmen classes.
Thoughts have be whirling in my mind since this morning. With my sophomores blogging and reading today, I’m going to blog beside them and finally articulate and share to get these thoughts from my mind. Freshmen can be very difficult to teach, along with sophomores, juniors, and seniors. 😂 In particular though, freshmen really struggle with transitioning to high school: emotionally, mentally, and physically. There are always a few that no matter what I say at the beginning refuse to turn in anything, participate in class, etc.
With that being said, I had a student who had a 17% two weeks ago in my class. This child finally came to me and said, “Ms. Lewis, what can I do to bring my grade up to passing?”
This child, like a few others, did not turn in but one assignment the first 9 weeks. I had to reel in my sarcasm, my annoyance, my frustration, and the almost instinctive reaction to laugh. Instead, I smiled, pulled up her grades, and said, “ Let’s start with these two missing assignments so you don’t get overwhelmed. As long as you’re willing to work and prove you know the content, I will continue working with you, and slowly, we will see your grade improve.”
I could have easily told her that she should have completed the assignments when they were assigned, that she could have attended either or both of my weekly tutoring days, or that she could turn in the new assignments and hope her grade improved enough to pass by the end of the semester because ultimately, it’s her fault that she’s in the predicament that she is currently in.
I battled thoughts: Will allowing her to do these assignments from the first nine weeks enable her to continue this behavior? What responsibility would this teach her? Why should I have to work so hard now, when I offered so much help in the beginning?
Call me crazy, but those questioning thoughts turned into that innate feeling of “I have to help her.”
Since I showed her that I was still willing to work with her, regardless of the disrespect she showed at the beginning, she has turned in all of her daily assignments and has slowly been turning in those way past due assignments. She’s attending the hour tutoring sessions, and has almost brought her grade up to passing. I am certain that she will pass this semester by the end.
I could have told her that she couldn’t, and I would have absolutely been justified. Others could argue that I did enable her bad habits and continued her irresponsibility by allowing this... that I am not teaching her life lessons.
I would argue that all these kids know are life lessons. They probably know more about some aspects of how cruel life can be than I do. What they need is compassion, empathy, someone to not give up on them. They need help seeing the good in the world, along with the content that she would have missed out on. I would argue that she did learn responsibility because she is no longer not turning in assignments. Maybe that makes me what some consider a “weak” teacher. But isn’t refusing the child more about the teacher than what the kid did? If a child is finally ready to learn and correct wrongs, shouldn’t we openly extend a hand?
I know that there are many different teacher views and philosophical approaches, and I respect them. I also know most teachers bend over backwards for the kiddos with very little appreciation from the kids, parents, etc.
I guess my thoughts come to the message of just not giving up, always make it about the kid first, and teachers, keep kicking butt, regardless of some people in the public having no clue what we do on our “ overpaid babysitting” job.