A couple of weeks ago I called Ivan’s mom to tell her I’d sent Ivan out of class for his misbehavior. I told her that I could tell he had been well-brought up, and is from a really nice family. Also that his behavior was verging on disrespect for me, the other students in the class and the school. He came to school the next day a changed boy. He has been polite and on task, overall quite happy. This past Tuesday he politely asked me when I thought I’d be calling his mom again. I hadn’t planned to call her again, and asked if he wanted me to do so. He smiled and said, “Well, yeah. That’s when I”ll get my skateboard back.” HAH! I found the magic! I smiled back and said, “I guess you’d like me to do that before the long weekend, wouldn’t you?” So today after school I called his mom and thanked her, complimented her on her son. We agreed that I’d keep her posted on his progress ad behavior. It’s great to create a connection with parents, especially at this age when they still have some sway over them. Phone calls home always had a good result with high schoolers, but I think it is even better with these younger kids. I think I’ll make a few more calls this weekend.
Today in our collaboration meeting we were divided into groups by grade level and began to look at the scores and profiles of our students who are failing. It was really useful to hear how students are doing in other people’s classes, even when they seemed not to espect anything more. Tonight I went through and looked at the GPAs of all my students. Those who behave the worst in my class apparently do the same thing in most all of their other classes as well. I have about ten kids in one class with less than a 2.0. At least four of them have less than a 1.0. How do we wake them up, turn them around? This is only seventh grade, and already I see them dropping out. I see them making it to high school as a social promotion, without graduating from eighth grade, and then being so far behind they end up at the continuation school and eventually disappearing from the scene. If we can’t somehow turn that tide, my prediction will be tragically accurate. We lose way too many kids, and it breaks my heart to see it coming. Yet at the same time, I’d love to have some of them elsewhere so I could teach those who want to learn. It truly is a conundrum.