Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Are you or your kids a Christine, Alex, Jessica, or Kevin.

From the Trenches of Public Ed.: A tale of four students

Christine is a girl in one of my American History classes. Although she didn't begin the year looking like she would be one of the top students in the sophomore class, there were no indications that she'd have any trouble in my class. When she took the quizzes for my reading assignments, it was clear that she had reasonably good comprehension, but she was a little inconsistent. At about the mid-point of the first quarter, she began to do the assignments less and less, and by the end of the quarter, she wasn't doing any of them at all.
Then there is Alex. Alex is a bright young man, and he also began the year doing reasonably well in my class. But one day in October, Alex was absent. Then he was absent again. Then again...and again...and again...and again.

Social studies isn't easy for Jessica, and like Christine, she failed the first quarter. Unlike Christine, her parents were all over her as a result. Jessica does not have great reading comprehension, but I have a note-taking system that the kids can use to guarantee themselves decent scores on the reading quizzes. Jessica began to do those regularly, earned a C the second quarter, and in doing so managed to pass the first semester.
Kevin is in class every day. He was a captain on our school's hockey team this year, and in January he got to the point where he could barely skate because he was suffering from a painful bulging disc. His coaches and his parents finally forced him to take a two weeks off from the sport, because he would never have done it himself. He did miss one day of school to see a doctor, but he was back in class the next day. It was too painful for him to sit, so he would come into class early, go to my cabinets, dig out about 15 books from my first semester Economics class, stack them on top of a desk, put his notebook on them, and take notes in a standing position. Kevin did that in all of his classes for about a month-and-a-half.
I was an Alex, I am ashamed to say. Unfortunately my parents were natural hardworking students, and it never occurred to them that I might be lying about attending school or doing my homework.

Today my whole parenting style revolves around ensuring my kids don't get away with what I did. Trust but verify is my motto.

Go read the whole thing.