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MissESL MissESL is online now
 
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What Can I Do Differently?
Old 01-12-2021, 02:38 PM
 
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I am honestly at my wits end and am looking for suggestions.
I only have 2 self-contained class periods. They are broken up by grade level to simplify scheduling. One class has 16 students, EIGHT of which do not submit any work. Of those, SIX attend class (read: sign on, usually idle). Then there are TWO students that I am convinced are mythical, bc Ive never seen them.
I have had 1 assignment for a grade since we returned from break. All 8 of those students currently have 0% in my class.
This was a problem last semester, so I took some time to reflect on what could be causing this. I decided that it could be overwhelming - maybe they have too many assignments. Maybe working online so much is causing them some challenges. I also thought maybe the number of assignments across all of their classes was too much.

So, I made a couple of changes to my own policies to try to help them be more successful this semester.
1. Giving students at least a day to complete work. I noticed that telling students that something was due in the same class period was resulting in a lot of zeroes in classes I support. I never give less than a day, but Ive never explicitly said that to kids, until now.
2. I limit my weekly grades to 2-3 max. I got this idea from one of you in another post on PT. I felt like I needed to grade everything to make it worth their while, even though if we were in school in person I would not do that. I also felt more points = more chances to succeed, but that ended up not being true. So, less work for them AND for me.
3. Help link - I have assigned office hours in a rotation with other special area teachers to make sure every student has the opportunity to receive support. This semester, I have assigned students a conference time once a week to check in, too. At this point, everyone except those 8 are taking advantage of knowing they have my undivided attention at that time.
4. I contact students by email (& cc parents) once a week with a grade update and list of missing assignments. I double this up by sending a text home using our communication program letting parents know to look for the message.

I am there, every day teaching. My lessons & materials are online. I am giving them as much flexibility as I know how, and I am failing half a class. Any suggestions would be helpful.


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Old 01-12-2021, 03:26 PM
 
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YOU are not failing half your class. Half your class is failing, but it really doesn't sound like it's on you.

I assume you've spoken to your supervisor or principal? Have attempts been made to contact these students or their families or carers to try and find out what the problem is? How can the school help these kids engage?

How old are the students? If they're little (say, under Year 6 age) and the parents are unsupportive, there probably isn't a lot more you can do. Year 7 and up are more independent and may be able to log on and engage despite unsupportive parents.

But there's a lot in this online situation you, as teacher, can't control. Which sucks. And will suck even harder for these kids when they do come back to school.
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Old 01-12-2021, 03:39 PM
 
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I refuse to work harder than the kids. I could type a while long thing, but Im tired. Just make sure youre documenting and focus on the kids that want to learn.
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Old 01-12-2021, 03:51 PM
 
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I agree with both previous posters. At some point you have done all you can do. They earn the failing grade.
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Old 01-12-2021, 04:09 PM
 
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Thank you for your words. I appreciate the support and commiseration so much.

I teach 6-8th graders. Part of the reason I am asking is that my principal spends a chunk of our weekly meeting hashing out who is failing and why. The administration knows it is an issue and continues to push teachers to fix the issue and/or reflect on what they can do differently to help kids succeed. Its not necessarily that they are unsupportive, but it is a little tone deaf considering everything everyone is trying to juggle right now.


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Old 01-12-2021, 04:59 PM
 
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Honestly, it seems like you are doing above and beyond what should be expected for 6-8 graders. The only other thing would be to do their work for them.

Not knowing what you teach, is it possible to chunk up the work/expectations? Give them credit for participating in meetings and meeting with you for the office hours? Do some sort of short/quick exit ticket during the in meeting time so you have something to assess them on?

I also wanted to remind you of the language you use.
Quote:
and I am failing half a class.
. You are not failing the class. They are earning failing grades. I have worked hard to refocus my words (and thoughts) to reflect that. I don't give students grades. They earn their grades. On them, not me.
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Old 01-15-2021, 02:12 PM
 
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I how you see this; Im sorry it has been so long since I looked at this!
Thank you for reframing that for me. You are right. They are getting the grades theyre earning and I have to remember that.
I think its been challenging to do that as administrators seem to solely hold us personally responsible for kids passing.
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