Monday, April 21, 2008


They passed!  They passed!  Well almost all of them did anyway, which leads me to the dilemmas.

Student 1 - Has been with me since grade 9 first semester.  Decided to go the way of the "bad girl."  Insists on getting into control struggles with 90% of the adults she meets.  You know, because she's female and wants to win.  Somehow, the two of us have avoided that and occasionally she's been known to listen to me, connect with me, and some rare times engage in math class.  I fought hard to get her into the stretch program last year, because her second semester math teacher wanted her to fail, to teach her a lesson.  Not that my coworkers would ever enter into such a power trip with a 14 year old or anything...  Anyway, fast forward to this year.  We can't exactly say school has been a top priority for this young lady.  Faced with failing at the end of first semester it was pull your socks up time or face the reality of repeating her grade 10 math.  She met us about halfway.  She redid a few things with her resource teacher, and appeared to be putting in more of an effort.  She was supposed to redo more things then she did, to bring her mark above a passing grade.  This didn't really happen.  She did however, pass the final (or parts of it, enough to merit an overall passing grade).  She didn't pass it by enough to bring her mark up to above a 50%.  Do I
  1. fail her?  She had tons of opportunity to pull her mark up, receive support etc etc etc.   We told her she would fail if she didn't do the list of things we provided and she didn't.  It just kills me to fail kids who are capable.  Not to mention ones that I feel a little invested in.
  2. conditionnally pass her?  She still has resource and I could make her continue to redo things during that time.  This would be alright if we hadn't already given her this option before...  I mean, how many chances do you give someone?  Eventually there needs to be some follow through...
  3. pass her but make her leave the program?  We could still make her pull up her mark in resource by redoing some key concepts for us and remove her from our program.  She could handle regular programming in the fall, though she certainly runs the risk of failing due to poor choices not lack of intelligence and less understanding then she's received from us.
Student 2 - Is an ESL student from Japan.  Not the smart kind who want 110% in everything.  The kind with an uninvolved family, who runs the street with various gangs.  He has done a huge nothing for us all year.  Typically he sleeps.  Our EA, potentially the most patient lady ever, tries to work with him when he's conscious.  We gave him the benefit of the doubt - he doesn't understand us.  Thanks to his slightly insane girlfriends, his English has improved dramatically and he certainly understands us.  Needless to say, sleeping hasn't been to condusive to him learning any math.  However, by some black voodoo magic, he passed the final.  Not by much, but enough that says he must have learnt something by osmosis, or recalled some previous knowledge somehow.  Now what do I do with him?  The choices look much like above, only with a please stop taking math addendum.  


Chris said...

Interesting dilemma. Is this Math 10? If so, it is just a stepping stone to Math 20, which is the actual rock that will enable that coveted High School diploma to be earned. Instead of giving you answers, how about some more questions (so helpful, I know!)

How will each student benefit from failing? What will it teach them if you pass them? Will you be supporting or enabling? Do they have the skills to move on to Math 20 and not struggle greatly? Will holding them in Math 10 bore them to tears?

Let us know what you decide!

Not So French Girl said...

Student 1 - So hard ! I hate failing kids too. I usually don't, especially the ones I have invested in. But what are we teaching them ? I think option 3 is not the best. It sounds like she needs to be in the program, despite her capabilities. I am leaning towards her completing work in resource. Can you hold off on giving her a grade until June ? If you pass her, decide now where you are drawing the line for next time. On to read student 2.

Not So French Girl said...

Student 2 - I think option 3 is the way to go. Sleeping ? Come on !

Sara said...

Chris asks good questions, but I'm just going to give an answer. (Bad, teacher! Bad!) Fail Student 1. You said it yourself "We told her she would fail if she didn't do the list of things we provided and she didn't." If you don't do what you say, can you expect her to do what you have her say she'll do? Also, "how many chances do you give someone?" A semester of chances every time she goes to resource should do it. If there's one thing I learned from both Supernanny (tm) and my classroom experience is that you have to state your expectations and the consequences, and then follow through, otherwise nothing is credible. And that it's okay to read two stories before bed, but not three.

Student 2. Yup, pass him (because he deserved it) and make him leave the program (because he doesn't need it. If he can pass adapted math while sleeping, he can pass regular math by staying awake). Tell him to quit running with gangs and sleeping in class, because this is Saskamatoon, not damn west side story.