Parent meeting - need advice

Discussion in 'Secondary Education Archives' started by CindyBlue, May 4, 2005.

  1. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    May 4, 2005

    Here's the scenario. I teach high school. I've got a student who asked, in the first quarter of the school year, to be transferred to my faster-moving class when she started getting C-D grades in her other class. She does a lackluster job on her homework but she completes it. She's no trouble in class, though when there's time to start homework she needs to be reminded to stay on task. She scores D's and F's mostly on tests, and scores the same on them again when I let her take them again. She doesn't correct her homework or tests from the correct answers posted in the room. The other grades in the class are almost all A's, with a few B's. She's the only one doing poorly. She doesn't come in for help after school though I'm available every day. She's getting mostly A's and B's in her other classes. I just cannot put my finger on why she isn't doing well. I've tried every way of communicating the material that I can think of, short of requiring her to come in every day after school for individual tutoring - and I don't have time for individual tutoring of just one child - there's too many kids in here! Question - what can I tell the mom when she comes in? It's the first time I haven't had a solid reason I can give a parent as to why their child is failing a class. Any ideas for me? I'm at my wit's end here!
     
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  3. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    May 4, 2005

    Don't you really just attribute it to the lack of effort and concern shown by the student? I would tell the parent that the student was more than capable and was not using her potential.
     
  4. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    May 4, 2005

    Upsadaisy, that's pretty much what I was going to say... sounds like she's (the student!) just lazy to me.
     
  5. D2theMcV

    D2theMcV Rookie

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    May 5, 2005

    What you told us ought to suffice.
     
  6. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    May 5, 2005

    Yes, but how do you tell the parent the kid is lazy in a "politically correct" manner? She did "do" the homework enough to get credit...it just not WELL done. I see no evidence of trying to correct it, or trying to understand the material she didn't understand (as evidenced by test scores and missed answers on HW)- no questions, no looking at the T.E. that I keep available for the kids to use...just doing what I ask her to do but not trying to do it better so she understands the concepts. It's as if she thinks that "doing" the homework without studying the material is supposed to be enough - and while it might be for some, it isn't for her. Sue wish I had the words to use here...but I'm just stumped for an explanation.
     
  7. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    May 5, 2005

    actually, i think the explanation you JUST gave is pretty good...

    You might phrase it as a "here are things I have available to help kids. She's had ample opportunity to improve her grade, get extra help, etc, and she's chosen not to taek advantage of the opportunities." I like the idea that just "doing" the homework isn't enough for her to learn the material.
     
  8. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    May 5, 2005

    Yes, after a lot of hard soul-searching, I do mostly attribute it to lack of effort and concern on the part of the student. This is what I feel about it but wasn't able to find a way to SAY. Thanks...it's the truth, and the truth is always the best thing to say. I know I could have done more (required that she come in after school, for example) but time gets away...so many kids, so much to do, I just can't do it all and I feel guilty about the ones who, if I had more time, I might have been able to help more...
     
  9. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    May 5, 2005

    Thank you so much. You stated what the situation is, very well, and gave me some good words to use. I just keep racking my brains to think of something I could - should - have done differently here. But I have many, many opportunities in my class so that a student who WANTS to succeed can actually succeed. It's so frustrating when they choose not to take advantage of these opportunites...but in a sense, she DID take advantage of them...for example when, I offered a chance to do the exams again, she alway did...but she failed them again! Once it was the exact same exam...how could she fail it again when it was the same questions she had before??? Best I can figure is that she's not STUDYING, just sort of drifting along. But...(guilt showing here) then why is she getting B's and A's in the other classes (except for my grade and one C)? She must be able to study for those classes successfully...so what am I doing wrong here? Why is what I'm doing working for EVERY other kid in the class, but not HER? (frustrated sigh...)
     
  10. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    May 5, 2005

    Cindy- don't feel guilty here- this student ASKED to be in your class and then didn't live up to the requirements...She was getting C/D before she transferred in and is still getting D's. If you've let her know that extra help ils available, given opportunities to improve her grade, etc, etc....She's got to meet you 1/2 way and she just isn't. I like clarnet's response to use with the parents- you've given opportunities, she has CHOSEN not to take advantage of them.
     
  11. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    May 6, 2005

    Thanks for the encouragement...I usually don't let this type of stuff get to me this much...must be the end of the year...and that fact that I can always think of something I COULD have done, but didn't...
     
  12. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    May 6, 2005

    She just took an exam...and got a D-, with my giving her points anywhere I could possible squeeze them out. The review assignment was done, but not well - haphazardly, many directions not followed - and was not corrected, so she had no idea what she needed to study for the exam. It would have been so easy for her to check those answers...especially since the assignment was given on Monday and the test was today (Friday.) The rest of the grades were 14 As (with 10 perfect scores), one B, 4 Cs, and 1 D. So...shoot! Frustrating! I simply don't know how to make a horse drink if I lead it to water!!!!! Thanks for "listening," everyone...parent appointment on Monday. Wish me luck!
     
  13. sdhudgins

    sdhudgins Comrade

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    May 7, 2005

    I made it all the way through high school fighting discalculia. Is it possible that this child might actually have a missed disability. I had A's and B's in everything else which automatically put me into the faster paced math classes. I struggled for a C and even made one D. I pretty much got frustrated all the time, but never gave up... is it possible that the "haphazard" appearance to her work could be something like this.
    Look for inverted numbers, flipped numbers. Numbers that should be on a different line, etc. My college alg teacher caught my constantly flipping numbers.... the first math class I ever made an A in too! Because I had a teacher that was willing to help me.
     
  14. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    May 9, 2005

    Thanks for the advice...I thought of that, too, earlier on in the year. But it's things such as the wrong formula used, questions skipped, steps not shown. They're allowed to take a formula card into evey chapter test. She was frantically copying formulas from another student right before the test - showing no pre-test preparation. When she does the homework well (i.e., as I've taught her), the test scores are good, too. And she did well in class last year...I had the meeting this morning. Mom was late so we only had a couple of minutes...I showed her the latest homework and test - the questions that weren't done, steps not shown, directions that weren't followed, one as simple as not putting name on the paper. (Mom told me that she'd TOLD her to put her name on the paper!) I also showed her all the other kid's test papers - every one except two - including her - had followed the directions, and every one except her and the other one did well on the test. I told Mom, as I've told her daughter, that if "your (the daughter's) way isn't working, you need to try mine." I teach it that way because it works. Mom said a couple of times"...well she never had that problem in so-and-so's class last year..." I KNOW I can't be everything to everyone, but it galls me when someone says that to me. I really take it personally, and I just know I've given this student, like all my students, every opportunity. I'd sure like to be the perfect teacher for every student...but they have to make efforts beyond just doing the homework, too, don't they? When things get tough, then you need to do what it takes to get the job done, including taking advantage of after school time, etc. I just read an article that states that the Japanese students in Japan, who outscore the US year after year, aren't any smarter than our kids - they just work harder, and spend more time studying. But in the US, if a student doesn't do well, it's said it's because he isn't smart, or has a learning disability, or it's the schools'/parents'/teachers' fault. This is depressing to me - it's as if we're telling the kids that they CAN'T do it, because of whatever [fill in the reason.] But if you know you CAN do it if you work hard enough, you'll do it. I've never had a kid fail my class that worked hard and took advantage of all the extra opportunities I give. Never. They always "got it" in the end. Having a learning disability shouldn't be used as an excuse for not doing something, it means you have to find a way that works for you. You never gave up - and you figured it out in college. I never gave up, either (dyslexic at a time when no one really knew about dyslexia!) We just kept working until we figured it out, or were lucky enough to have someone else figure it out for us. And this student has no documented learning disability. The others in the class are doing so very well...gees, after twenty years teaching, you'd think I could just deal with this without feeling so bad. It's pretty clear cut - she needs to study. I'm the one who has to "get over it!" Thanks, everyone. I really appreciate the feedback.
     
  15. LadyJet02

    LadyJet02 Rookie

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    May 17, 2005

    Feeling bad is part of being a good teacher. After teaching 20 years, I still feel bad when my students don't succeed, no matter what the reason. I teach 8th grade pre-algebra. The students call it "Pre-Algebra for Dummies" because the reason they are in that class is because they did miserably in their 7th grade math class. Although so far they have all gotten A's an B's, I have had to majorly adjust my schedule to meet their needs, and sometimes spend multiple days on one concept, teaching it in many different ways. I truly believe math is just hard for some students, no matter what the reason. And if a student doesn't believe in themselves, they surely do not put the effort into trying. Honestly, short of recommending tutoring or using the filters suggested, I don't know what else you could do.

    Note to SDHudgins...where do students get tested for discalculia? I am very interested in this disorder, and think I might have one student who has it.
     
  16. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    May 18, 2005

    LadyJet - don't you think that many 8th graders are just not developmentally ready for algebra? We find that at our school.
     
  17. Azelia

    Azelia Rookie

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    May 19, 2005

    Cindyblue,

    One thing that no one here has considered is debilitating anxiety. I absolutely HATE math. My fourth grade teacher was teaching us how to divide, and I just had a mental road block. I just didn't understand why a number divided into another number produced a particular answer. I kept asking and asking and asking; I just couldn't seem to understand. (I was genuinely asking, too. I wasn't being a difficult student.) Finally after all my asking the teacher looked at me and said "It just is. That just the way it's done." My brain shut down; and I decided I wasn't capable of understanding how to do it." From that day forward MATH became a major challenge in my life. I can't even keep my checkbook calculated correctly. My husband will often ask me "Honey, what is 2+2?" And I'll say "4." He will then want to know why I wrote 3 or some other number.

    It is possible that your student is scared. She has already experience so much failure that she may not feel that she is capable of doing that stuff called math. Her coming to class to write down what someone else has written, may be her way of saying, "I don't know what to write down so I'll ask someone who does." Her homework is poorly done because she doesn't understand it, and she doesn't come to tutoring because she's already determined that she can't do it so why keep trying.

    I had a sixth grade student this year who did not do her research paper in my English class. We spend about 9 weeks on this project; we complete each step together in class, and she did not do the work. I spoke with the parents about it because she was going to fail the quarter without it. They told me that she totaly freaks over research papers. She becomes overwhelmed and becomes paralyzed. So the parents took time outside class to help her. She did great. She made an A.

    I only metion this aspect because no one else seems to have considered it. (I know I didn't with my sixth grader.) I know as a teacher, I sometimes overlook the idea that kids just aren't getting it because they have that mental block of "I can't do this so why try."

    If I were you, I would try to take time at least once a week during those tutoring hours to give her some one-on-one attention. You may be the only one who can help her. I know as a teacher that can really take a lot of your time and resources, but I believe she is worth it. After all, as teachers I think most of us believe that "if I can help just one, then what I do is worth it."

    I know it's at the end of the year at this point, but maybe just a few sessions will show her that she is capable. And she may have a better mind set next year.
     
  18. Eki75

    Eki75 Rookie

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    Jun 1, 2005


    Here's a thought. Don't accept her homework until it's done correctly. If she turns it in incomplete, make her re-do it. That way, she'll eventually have to buckle down and learn the concepts instead of just skipping one and moving on and skipping that one too--it's a vicious cycle. If you make her redo it until it's right, even if it takes the whole year to do the first assignment correctly--at least she will have learned the first assignment instead of nothing at all.

    Also, you're not doing her any favors by squeezing out points in her work. If she is failing (especially because she's not working), then fail her and make her repeat the class until she does the work and learns the material.

    I'd say that to the parent as well, though I am sure this situation is probably behind you by this date!
     

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