Why is Billy not doing well?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by midwestteacher, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. midwestteacher

    midwestteacher Cohort

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    Dec 7, 2009

    I got an email from a parent earlier today - What seems to be Billy's problem in your class?

    Well mom, Billy does the absolute minimum that he thinks he can get away with. If it requires any effort, Billy doesn't want to do it. He puts more effort into trying to figure out how to cheat than he does into actually doing the work (which is why I make sure Billy is sitting with another student that doesn't do work). He has lots of really low grades (14, 41, 38, 53) and several 0s for just not doing the work. He has failed three of the last four weekly tests we have had (probably because he refuses to listen while we review). Basically, I believe that if breathing wasn't an involuntary action, Billy would have suffocated long ago.

    I guess this would be a little harsh, so I edited it before I replied to the email, but it felt good to type it here. BTW, parents have access to our grades over the internet and can check them at any time. Progress reports came out almost 3 weeks ago and she is just now contacting me about his grades!?!?

    Ahh, vent over and I feel better now.
     
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  3. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    Dec 7, 2009

    Except for your last sentance (the one starting with "Basically...") I think what you wrote was just fine!
     
  4. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Apples don't fall far from trees....
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Dec 7, 2009

    I would suggest a conference, with you, mom and Billy.

    Perhaps he can fill you both in on what's going on.
     
  6. fuzed_fizzion

    fuzed_fizzion Comrade

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    I agree with Alice. It is time to have a meeting with the parent and child to talk about what is going on.
     
  7. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Dec 8, 2009

    We heard a similar message from a parent at our parent conferences last week. This kid is a charmer (and knows it); the charm wears thin, however, when no work is being done. We set up another meeting for this Friday and have requested that the student be present this time. We need his input into any plan that we put into place.
     
  8. Historyteaching

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    You said you moved Billy near a student that is similar to him (as in not doing work either) to make sure Billy doesn't cheat. But, to me, this just encourages the behavior. Sitting him and grouping him with people that do work ..and may 'protect' their papers while doing work..may encourage him to do better.

    I had a student in class last year who always teamed up with a student who is quite similar to Billy. When the student dropped out of school, "Jerry" became teamed up with "Tommy" and suddenly his grades improved because he was working with and pairing himself up with a student that did work.

    Just a thought. I didn't pair them, he knew the student and wanted to work with him.
     
  9. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    HistTeach I definately see your point but I see midwest's logic too. I had a student who copied twice this week. I had to move him to sit by himself to prove he could do his work. If a student is copying (rather than asking for help) putting them with stronger students doesn't always work.
     
  10. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    Dec 9, 2009

    I feel your pain....Please let me know if you figure out a solution.


    4 of my 70 students this semester are just showing up until they turn 18 so they can legally drop out. One of whom can't do 3+5 without a calculator (no, I'm not making this up.)

    The parents won't respond to my calls or any other calls, but the State says I'm responsible for their failing grades.



    Honestly, I'll accept the State calling me crap but I can't accept them walking out the door not knowing how to figure sales tax and that is what will happen.
     
  11. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Dec 9, 2009

    I know you'd like to tell these kids that you're going to hate seeing them on the side of the road holding a sign saying, "Will work for food". Seriously, they'll be another drain n society.
     
  12. midwestteacher

    midwestteacher Cohort

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    He makes no effort at all. So it would serve no purpose to sit him with a stronger student. He just copies their work. He doesn't ask "Where did you find #6?" He asks "What is the answer to #6?" These kids want to be liked so much, they will let others copy because it is the "cool"thing to do. I had been sending his work home so he could finish it and get some credit, but his grandmother was doing it for him and everything was coming back in her handwriting.
     
  13. kfhsdramaqueen

    kfhsdramaqueen Rookie

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    Dec 9, 2009

    I have a student kind of like Billy. This young man is currently a senior. He has a discpline file at least 12 inches thick. He has been written up for assaulting a teacher, carrying a weapon, threatening other students, etc. But, his mother claims that he gets in trouble because he is so smart, in fact "He's smarter than 90% of the teachers in this building" She claims he's bored and that's why he doesn't do well. He currently is in my theatre arts class, in which he has a 43. But, it's my fault he's failing. But, apparently he likes me, so he doesn't give me discpline problems. It's kids like this who give education a bad name.
     
  14. MissEducation

    MissEducation Companion

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    Dec 10, 2009

    I feel your pain, Midwest. I have a few students who are like "Billy." I don't know what to do about them. Conferencing with parents doesn't seem to help because the parents don't seem to care or they claim there's nothing else they can do. (How about grounding your kid until he at least turns in one homework assignment, just for starters?) I literally have a kid with a 0%. He has not turned in a single assignment, including all the silly little 2 or 3 point in class things we've done. We've been doing research, and when kids don't bring the materials, then I have to figure out something else for them to do, which they most likely won't do anyway! So frustrating...
     
  15. midwestteacher

    midwestteacher Cohort

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    Here is the kicker. Mom said they will really be on Billy's case and try to change his attitude about school. Hmmm. He is sixteen and you are going to change his attitude about school now!?! His birthday was this week and he was kept out of school to get his license and go pick up his truck. Hello folks! If the kid can't do his homework, don't let him get a license and don't buy him a truck so he can wander the county and not do any homework. Ground his sorry butt and take away the cell phone.
    PS We did a crossword puzzle on definitions that we have been working on forever. We are in the midst of a five week unit and they have 10 new words every week to create a glossary for class. He worked on it for two days and got 30% of it done. And it had a word bank!
     
  16. MissEducation

    MissEducation Companion

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    Dec 10, 2009


    ARGH! I'm only 27 but sometimes I feel like I'd be a better parent to a teenager than some of my parents. I understand that some kids are truly having major issues and that you can't just blame the parents, and my heart goes out to them. I have no idea how I'd handle some of they issues they deal with. But some of my kids are just SPOILED. I had a parent tell me over the phone that they are "really strict" with their son and they were "already trying everything" to get him to do his homework...then 30 seconds later he told the same son to turn down the TV because his video game was too loud...hmmm, what's wrong with this picture?

    I think part of this frustration is that most teachers were *probably* halfway decent students; otherwise we wouldn't have gotten through college and/or wouldn't be interested in education as a career. We probably had parents who valued education, or we were self-motivated to get a good education. This makes it frustrating to deal with lazy students. The solution seems so obvious. I can't help but think about what MY parents would have done to me if I had been failing out of 7th grade just for lack of effort!
     
  17. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Dec 13, 2009

    Lack of effort is one of the most frustrating things I dealt with during my internship. I agree with MissEducation about teachers either being good students or self-motivated (or both). I was always a good student, although I didn't have the best study habits, so I have a very difficult time understanding kids that just sit in class and literally do nothing! I had one student who had not turned in a single assignment during the grading period. I spent one class going over every answer on the assignment from the day before because so many students struggle with it. I worked the problems on the board and gave the students a chance to correct any mistakes they had made on their work. This student sat through the whole class doing nothing. When I told him it would be a good idea for him to copy the problems so he could get at least partial credit, he copied ONLY the answers and NONE of the actual work. Then he had the audacity to write "100" at the top of his paper when he turned it in. :eek:

    I gave it back to him with the "100" marked out and replaced by a "O". When he complained, I told him he did not get credit for just copying answers off the board but being too lazy to copy the actual work that went with the answers. I tried to spoon feed the kid and he knocked the spoon away, so he got what he deserved for that effort - nothing!

    On a happier note, this same student did eventually start making some effort and was pulling his grades up during the last 6 weeks I taught him and I made certain to praise his efforts and grades as a reward. :thumb:
     
  18. CanadianTeacher

    CanadianTeacher Groupie

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    I was going to start a new thread, but I'll just post here because my issue is similar. I just finished marking a math test in Geometry. We spent three weeks to a month on this material. I've gone over everything in detail, gave them notes to copy study on what they would need to know for the test and reviewed with them taking question to clarify things. I even offered to help during lunch with anyone who needed it. I have one grade 8 class of 31 and a grade 7/8 class with only 8 grade 8's in it (22 grade 7's). My worry was for the grade 8's in the split class because I have a hard time giving them the attention they need with so many busy grade 7's and two different curriculums in one class. However, these were my results:

    Grade 8's in split: Everyone got A's and B's, even the one's who seemed so distracted and lazy/unfocused about their work throughout the last few weeks. I'm so proud of them for really picking it up.

    Grade 8 class of 31:
    -3 A's
    -1 B-
    -10 C's and D's
    -16 failures (anywhere from 0 :dizzy: to 48%)
    -(one person was absent to write)

    I'm shocked. I've decided to go over the test concepts (but not the questions in detail) then return their tests and have them redo the questions they didn't do right and resubmit. I really don't know where I went wrong. When I first arrived in early Nov to take over, I was told they were not great at getting work done, studying, etc.., but to have so many fail when I've taken every step to ensure success is just flabbergasting. They only had six terms to know, and it was a mid-unit test so that they wouldn't have too much to worry about. Three questions using angle properties to figure out the measure of angles in diagrams then justifying their answers as to how they figured it out. They're great kids, but so unfocused and lazy... :(
     
  19. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Dec 13, 2009

    I just jumped into an 8th grade history assignment for three weeks. I graded only on classwork that we did together because I wasn't given any info on their previous work. After grading the classwork, I was shocked to see that more than half the students didn't make any effort. And, I told them that all they had to do was listen, follow along, and fill in blanks to get A's on every assignment!

    I used their last progress grades as my base and a computer grading program to calculate their scores. Only a few students took advantage of my methods to raise their grades. Most just let their grades drop - out of laziness. Only the A students did all the work, and some of the B students maintained their Bs.

    I can't imagine these students studying for an actual test. That would take effort.
     
  20. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    I had a similar experience with my last assignment during my internship. We were studying scale drawings. After spending 1.5 days explaining the content, I assigned the class 15 problems. I told them to do what they could the first night and we would work on the problems in class the next day. I spent the next day illustrating five of the homework problems on the board and gave the students time to copy the work I had done. I ended up doing at least 6 problems in one class and 8 in another. I told them there was NO REASON AT ALL any of them should miss the problems I had done on the board since I had done all the work for them. And I still had students that got those problems wrong. :dunno:

    I have no idea how I will approach this issue when I have a classroom of my own, other than to let the kids know they will be expected to complete their work and submit it on time or take a zero for a grade. Sadly, there will be some that are willing to just take the zero. :(
     
  21. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Dec 13, 2009

    Cerek, what did they get wrong?

    Did they consistently do the same thing wrong? One popular error is to count the LINES on the graph paper instead of the BOXES-- it adds one to every measurement you take.

    Of course they should have caught what you were doing, but they may never have stopped to realize the difference.
     
  22. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Dec 13, 2009

    "You can't blame him for not making an effort at all..."

    Why on earth not???

    Each of us is responsible for our own choices. Unless there's some sort of underlying medical issue , he CAN be blamed for his choices. He's in high school, he's not six. He needs an education.

    Actions have consequences.

    Can we talk just a little about personal responsiblity??
     
  23. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Dec 13, 2009

    No they aren't going to be happy about being in school for 8 hours, just like most people aren't happy going to work for 8 hours a day. And it's not about being punished for his choices/actions. We all have to follow rules whether in life, school, or in our jobs....if we don't we're fired or arrested/ticketed...
     
  24. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    The problem they missed most often gave them the scale of a road map and distance of two cities on the map, then determine the actual distance between the two cities. In addition, they also had to determine the scale factor for the map. By the time I actually collected the work, I had done at least a dozen samples on the board for finding the actual distance. I had explained how to set the ratio up and then just cross-multiply and divide, which we've done with several other problems as well. Some students still got the problem wrong because they set their ratio up incorrectly.

    The biggest problem for them, though, was the concept of scale factor. They just couldn't seem to grasp it at all. Finally, I asked any of the boys in class if they had built model planes or cars and mentioned these were always "scale models". That reminded my CT that she had actually purchased some scale model die cast cars and motorcycles, so we got those out to help the students visualize the concept of scale factor.

    Overall, the grades were ok. One class did quite well (mostly 80+ scores), but the other class had several failing grades. I can understand missing problems I haven't illustrated. I cannot understand getting a problem wrong when the teacher has done every step of the problem on the board and allowed students to copy the material onto their paper. But I did it specifically to prove that some students still would not pay attention or take the opportunity to ensure at least some of their problems would be correct.
     
  25. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    I disagree that school ruins the spirit of education. The spirit of education is to teach children the fundamental knowledge they will need to be productive and to strengthen their discipline and work habits along the way.

    Every person does have to accept the consequences of their actions and choices. If it doesn't happen in school, it will definitely happen in society and the consequences will be far more severe.
     
  26. midwestteacher

    midwestteacher Cohort

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    My point was not in comparing driving to studying. My point was this kid is making no effort in school other than showing up every day and he is getting a new vehicle and a license. A license that will allow him to leave home and drive to a friend's house and have a good time while he is still not doing homework. It is about consequences and responsibility. I have two kids and if they brought home a report card that looked like this kid's, they wouldn't have a vehicle, a license, a radio, or any priviliges.
    Mom and dad tell me that they just don't know how to make him do his homework because he just wants to be at his buddy's house all the time. Hey mom, don't let him go to his buddy's house.
     
  27. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Dec 14, 2009

    We don't know for a fact about the student in question if your theories apply, that's a lot of speculation.

    But I believe that learning can happen only as a partnership/cooperation between three parties: 1) the student, 2) the teacher, and 3) the parent. For whatever reason, it seems pretty clear that the teacher is holding up his or her end of the bargain, but the student isn't putting in the effort, and sadly, the parent(s) don't seem to be holding the student accountable.

    The student also has to step up and give some input for his/her learning efforts, if the current situation isn't helping him/her reach "full potential" as you put it. IOW, the student/learner has to take some ownership of his/her learning process.

    We as teachers can "lead a horse to water but can't make him drink".
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2009
  28. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I disagree- it DOES hurt someone. It hurts HIM.

    If he chooses NOT to get an education, the odds are ovewhelming that he WILL be punished. Not by me or by any adult, but as a result of the consequences of his choices.

    Take a look at the numbers. See the difference in income of those with an education and those without one.

    Take a look at the want ads. See how many more opportunities there are for the educated than the uneducated.

    As a broad generalization, people who become teachers tend to be optimists. We tend to believe that we can change the future by educating the next generation. Read the posts by some of the new teachers as they work through discipline issues-- how they are very sometimes disillusioned by the response when they really just wanted to prepare the next generation for their lives as adults.

    As a teacher, let me tell you: it would be SO MUCH EASIER to just let kids sleep in class, coast along without doing the homework, give easy tests and give everyone an A. The trouble maker type of kids would all be happy, some of the parents would be happy.

    But that's not what we do. We pull and cajole and entertain and do everything in our repetoires to get kids to learn. We want them to get not only a diploma, but an education.

    Let's fast forward 10 years. Do you honestly think that any boss will pay these students who have learned nothing in school? That the boss will care WHY they don't know what they need to know? That customers or clients will care whether they're sufficiently entertained???
     
  29. GoehringTeaches

    GoehringTeaches Comrade

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    Dec 14, 2009

    Alice, I agree with you 110%; however, I am facing this situation with my 11 year old step child. His father and I have done everything to push him to succeed in the year that we have had custody of him. So many of his problems are from his years with his mother. How do we reverse those problems? What can we do now to help him see the value in education and responsibility if for ten years his mother didn't show him?
     
  30. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Dec 14, 2009

    Goehring...

    Start small. Let him se you and your husband reading and engaging in intelectual conversation. Read and discuss the newspaper over breakfast or get into a friendly debate that requires you to go look up information. Let him see that being educated leads to an interesting life.

    Another thing you might do is have homework time together. You're a teacher, so this might actually work well. Both of you sit down and do your "homework" at the kitchen table. Let him see that it's not all fun and games for you either, that it's okay to not like doing some of the things you have to do, but that you do them anyway.

    Find something he's interested in and take every oportunity you can to work it into his schooling. I mentioned in another thread that my boys are totally into warfare...and it doesn't really matter if it's the Crusades or WWII, so long as it's a war. I buy just about every book that's age appropriate about war. In addition to encouraging reading, other topics, from history to techonology get worked into the mix. Whatever it is he likes, let him get immersed into it. Use what he figures out to do some project. My boys and I are known to build various model weapons (there goes that war theme again), and trips to the civil war battlefields around where we live are a regular treat.

    If he wants to read graphic novels or comic books LET HIM!!!!! At this point, you just want to get him reading. Kids his age really like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. The point is to get him reading and enjoying it. If he "practices" on something fun, then academic reading won't be as hard.

    Find the teachable moments in life. I've explained kinetic/potential energy, negative numbers, and aerodynamics all while driving down the road, just because somebody asked a question. Before we put the dry ice in the halloween punch, they got a lesson in states of matter and got to see, up close and personal, what sublimation is. These moments are all around you. If he's having fun, he might not notice he's learning :D.

    I hope some of these things help. Be patient and persistent. He'll eventually come around.
     
  31. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Dec 14, 2009

    Does he like to play video games? If so, ask him how cool it would be to make his own game. Does he watch cartoon shows? ask if he thinks it would be fun to be one of the guys that created those shows.

    Maybe take him to the zoo or aquarium and ask him what it would be like to take care of the animals there.

    As mmswm said, start small and look for things that interest him. Then find the learning opportunities in those areas of interest.
     

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