Today I attended a parent meeting for Cesar, one of my boys who is usually off task, playing and talking and doing anything but the work I assign. He is failing my class. No big surprise. He asked this morning if I would be at his meeting, and seemed quite nervous about it. He asked if I’d be talking about him at the meeting, about his grades and classwork. I assured him that would definitely be the main topic of conversation, but I promised not to be mean (like I could be mean even if I wanted to!).
When I got to the meeting, his woodshop teacher was talking about him. He said that Cesar is really patient and good at working with his hands. He said the tests are a little problematic for him, but he loves woodworking. Cesar acknowledged the truth of that, nodding when the teacher said he loved working on the class projects.
Later on, his mom said that at home all he wants to do is spend time with the animals. He is raising a goat for 4H, and he wants to spend all his time with it. His mom was talking about taking it away until he brings his grades up, because it’s all she has to punish him with. We discouraged that. I suggested that he be allowed to spend time with the animals after school until a certain, agreed upon time when he has to do an hour of homework and/or reading. She seemed to like that. I hope it works out for him.
When I listened to this conversation, I thought about a kid like this having to spend two hours a day in an English class, where not much of the work is hands-on. Sure we do foldables and one-pagers and other arty kinds of things, but the actual transmission of information is done orally and in writing. It made me think I need to step up my quest to provide more physical movement for my students.
After the meeting I worked on creating some SMART Board activities to use with word roots and spelling words. I created a couple of games that include a timer and large muscle movement to move letters and words around. I look forward to seeing how this works. Maybe if the kids in the audience have small white boards to work out the same problems as the ones at the SMART Board they won’t get bored and start playing around. It’s possible, I think.
I really loved learning about what Cesar likes. Now I wonder what all those other guys in the class are into. Where lies their passion, I wonder? And how can I tap into it?