The beyond unmotivated students

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by TateMcRose, Mar 25, 2017.

  1. TateMcRose

    TateMcRose Guest

    Mar 25, 2017

    Hi there,
    So this is my first year teaching at a small school in Michigan. I teach art at the high school level and for the most part I'm loving my job. However in a few of my classes I have these students who just will not do any work or participate the entire semester.

    When I look at their grades they are all failing every class. one of them is even a senior who lives on his own, so I can't even contact the parents for support.
    It aggravates me to just watch them sit there on their phones EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. (We can't take them for legal reasons).
    I could send them to in school suspension but that won't help them. When I talk to them in class, they sit there stone face an give me no response. I just don't know if there's anything I can do to help them at this point, but I'd feel like a bad teacher if I don't at least try.

    It's frustrating too cause when I ask administration for support they just tell me to contact the parents, but it seems to have no effect.

    Is there nothing I can do at this point? There is only two months left of the school year, so they've already made their decisions to fail, but do I put up with it in my classroom?
  3. Clay Morgan

    Clay Morgan Rookie

    Nov 7, 2015
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    Mar 25, 2017

    I teach mainly seniors.

    They return from Spring Break Tuesday for their fourth and final quarter, with graduation only 6 weeks away. I've been dealing with it all year and it is about to get worse with the seniors.

    You have to make some decisions about the amount of time you are going to invest in each student who has "checked out" trying to get him or her back on track.

    For me, I exceed school protocol. My "on the book responsibility" is to notify the parent each quarter if the student is going to fail.

    Here are the steps I take:
    • I briefly conference each student quarterly to explain they are failing and explain that my class is a requirement to graduate, why they are failing, and what must be done to get pack in the passing zone. No pass, no walk in May. I record this face-to-face meeting in our support and intervention system.
    • I include a note with each struggling student when their progress reports go out explaining why the grade is what it is. I offer to conference with parents. I record this in our support and intervention system.
    • We have a system of academic interventions in our school. I'm not sure if there is a rhyme or reason as to who is intervened upon, but I submit my recommendations to the appropriate deans/assistant principals. I record this recommendation in our support and intervention system.
    • Per the requirements of our school, I reach out to parents of failing students to notify them of pending failing grades. I record this in our support and intervention system.
    • If a student approaches me with the sudden realization they've not been working and wanting to try to get the grade up, I am willing to do so. As you might imagine, this interaction and subsequent ones (assignments received, not received, etc.), are recorded in our support and intervention system.
    At this point in the school year, students who are likely going to fail have at least 9, but likely 10-12 entries in their support and intervention file.

    My butt is covered. But more importantly, I have documented where I have genuinely made multiple efforts to help a student get back on track.

    It does become difficult and I have colleagues who don't go as far as I do. We each decide at what level we're going to let someone who is clearly not going to try go. You have to make the decision where to draw your line.

    For me, I might be tempted to stop sooner. However, my class is a graduation requirement and that places a sense of responsibility on me I might not have if I were teaching an elective a student could fail and possibly still receive a diploma.
  4. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

    Jun 18, 2016
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    Mar 25, 2017

    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
    Clay Morgan likes this.
  5. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

    Jun 1, 2008
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    Mar 25, 2017

    You could try asking them if they would be willing to go on an individualized plan to pass your class by the end of the semester. Sometimes when students get so deep in the hole of failure they don't see any hope in trying because they know they're going to fail anyway.
  6. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

    Feb 11, 2017
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    Mar 25, 2017

    I think some students are beyond hope. They do not respond to threats or to incentives. They think the gravy train of free food, free board, and free internet will last forever. Maybe their parents will never kick them out of the house even when they are 35 years old and playing video games all day long. I have no idea. I find them a pain because they distract the serious, motivated students from getting work done in class, and they bring down class morale. I would kick them out of my classes if I could, but since I am stuck with them, I just remind them privately they are failing 80% of their classes, and they will not go to college at that rate. Publicly, I just rarely call on them.
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

    Feb 4, 2010
    Likes Received:

    Mar 26, 2017

    There have been so many threads about this and the usual consensus is this:
    - some students have so many issues in their lives that school is the very last one on their list (for example homelessness, abuse, neglect, witnessing murder, gang life, any kind of trauma and anything else we can't even imagine)
    - some students just really don't care. I have a few freshmen and sophomores who are sitting in class, not doing anything. I have talked to them numerous times, my students tried to talk sense into them, and nothing works. I guess they need 2-3 more years of maturity, when they're finally seniors, seriously credit deficient and then they realize they're so far behind to graduate, it will take an act of God. Until they get to that point, it seems like you can't do much
    - some of these kids just need some extra motivation, to feel that someone cares, maybe they're confused about school, their role in life, their future, etc. These are the students you want to focus on, because there is hope
    - yes, we should try and motivate these students, but after we've tried everything, and nothing has changed, we have to realize we can't change things; and stressing and killing ourselves over it won't help
    - in some school climates this might be more crucial, but you also want to to document all the efforts: talking with students, printing out missing assignments and giving them to him, calling parents, even collaborating with other staff members.

    Some teachers never want to give up, they feel that we have to try everything, as long as the kid is in our class. If this is you, hope that you can make a difference. But this doesn't have to be you, it is great that you care so much, but this is not your fault. If you have a child that had 14-16 years old negative influences, (and they're ongoing), you have to understand you can't change all of that in 1-2 semesters.
    Clay Morgan likes this.
  8. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

    Aug 3, 2011
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    Apr 1, 2017

    I am so dang on tired of hearing this one, especially because Admin KNOWS many of our parents are not involved or they cannot actually get their child to change their behavior. We only call home to cover our butts.

    I had an issue with one of my Seniors this week and I was told to contact his parents about it. This "kid" was born in November of 1996. The Administrator I was talking to him kept saying "call his parents. Did you call his parents" - like this boy is not grown. The Admin said they needed me to contact the parent before they could do anything, but I find this to be a cop out. They just don't want to deal with the kid because they don't have any effective punishment /consequence for him.

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