Friday, March 23, 2007
A Ray of Hope
Parent-teacher conferences were today and yesterday. Mailing failing test papers home is the best idea I've ever come up with to get parents to come to school. Or, maybe it was the worse idea. I was inundated last night. This afternoon was a lot easier. I saw fewer parents and really had time to talk to them.
I spent quite a bit of time with Joey's parents. Joey cut almost the entire semester last term. And, when he did come to class, he did nothing. He did start trying at the end of the term, but it was too late. This term, he is trying. He is coming to class every day and carrying a sign in sheet.
The bad thing is that math is cumulative. It is hard to pass an exam that includes work from the term you decided to take a break from school. I was checking homework one day and Joey said that he didn't do it, but he thought about doing it. Although not the answer I wanted to hear, I said that is better than what you did last term so I am happy. Now, tonight, try actually doing it. What good would it have done to yell at him for not doing it? The old saying, "been there, done that" would certainly apply. I made a deal with Joey--just try. Do a little better on every test and if he got it all by the regents I would pass him. The first test of the term he answered 4 questions. I praised him and told him I was proud of his improvement. Next time, I expected him to get a few more correct. The next test, he got up to 10 right. Again, I praised him up the kazoo. I took out his latest test to look at while his parents were in the room. He didn't pass yet, but he had attempted 14 out of 24 questions. For Joey, that was unbelievable progress. His parents looked upset and asked me if he would pass. I told them I didn't know, but I was hopeful. I told them that Joey had faced failing so many times that the thing he needed most now was encouragement. Yelling and punishing hadn't worked in the past and it wouldn't work now. I told them that I thought we should try a new approach. They left, a little doubtful, but I hope I gave them hope. Sometimes a little bit of honey goes a long way.