Sunday, February 03, 2008

"I really want him/her to graduate"

I'm getting tired of this phrase.

Let me get something very clear. While I feel for the plight of the parent of the student who has made a choice to follow the path of least resistance, it should be understood that these are adults who are normally making a conscious decision not to put the effort into their own graduation. It has been a month since the beginning of the semester and I'm back into the territory of being pretty short of the "class maximum" in student numbers. The usual suspects for "struggling students" are the big three:

1) Students go onto "Independent Study", which is basically packet work and students learning nothing. Students are supposed to go into this program due to certain academic or work related circumstances. I've read the letters from students trying to get into the program and excuses like "I'm not a morning person" seem to be valid excuses.

2) Students go to a different teacher. This is where you hear the "My son/daughter doesn't like your teaching style". I don't like this excuse since I use a multitude of learning styles with a consistent outline to help make the class successful. Look at the grade and you will see that the student did nothing. The student doesn't participate, and the doesn't like the fact that I don't take crap. Students usually go to another teacher, and more often than not, fail there.

3) Students go down a level to Intro. Some students need to slower pace. Others don't want to do the work and go down to Intro where they know that the load is less. I've found that the latter is more true.

In the end, the parent is the final say in the matter, and most often the comment, "My son/daughter has spent all this time in school, and I just want them to graduate" is involved in the conversation regarding moving a student. I'm a strict teacher, but I'm a fair teacher that has the best interest of the student. Moving a lazy behavior problem on the final couple of laps of the Indy 500 is not in the best interest of the student. It gives the attitude that it is ok to get bailed out early. It gives the student a safety net that will often not be there in the future. The term "finish it" becomes warped and wrongly defined.

My answer to every parent is that if a student doesn't want to graduate, then they shouldn't. I give students every opportunity to use my assistance, but some don't want to take the steps, they want the diploma handed to them. I'm more available, more open, and more wanting for Seniors to graduate than you could believe. But the education has no value if it is given.

If you want it, work for it. Finish it.
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