Monday, July 11, 2016

What Happens When Students Don't Learn?

I have posted about how I decided to give all of my students "A's" in my class. Of course for most of my students this has helped them out a lot. I have seen most of my students doing more work than ever before, and therefore learning a lot more than with grades.

However, I will have to admit that there are some students that still don't do anything in class. Now, when I say they don't do "anything," they tend to keep "busy" in class, but they don't complete the amount of assignments that most of the students do. For example, every semester I have had least two or three students that have only completed two assignments the whole semester. This is really frustrating to me. And, at first this seems that the whole thing has failed and I get a little discouraged. However, I really had to start thinking about this.

One of the things that I came up with at first was to send students that were not really doing anything in class to our In-School Suspension room. My thought on this was that it is a privilege to be in class and learning. However, as I thought about this, I thought that this would be a nightmare for everyone involved (including the awesome people that work in our In-School Suspension room). So, before even implementing this idea, I totally scratched it. Plus, as I thought about it more, do I really want to send students someplace else to NOT complete the assignments in my class? That seemed a little silly to me. The whole point of this is to help students to learn.

Another thing that I thought of doing was putting those students that weren't doing anything in class in a group that would receive grades. I actually implemented this at the beginning of this last year. This was an absolute failure! I had these students still not completing assignments and still getting bad grades (mostly "F's"). This also mad me physically sick giving grades, especially when I was trying to have students not worry about grades. There was this threat lurking in the air that if a student didn't work, they would be getting a grade. Ugh! So, I went back and removed this group from my classes and gave all of my students "A's" again.

I then had to come to the idea that I had to be the person that helped these students out. I am the teacher. I am the person that went to school to learn how to be a teacher. I am the adult in the room. So, I decided that if a student was not completing the assignments in my class, I had to sit down with that students and talk with them personally. This has helped a little, but it is still something that I need to work on.

I have had a few classes that were smaller and I can move these students to either sit directly next to me or all by themselves. I usually let my students listen to music (either on their own devices or through my computers) while they work. There are times I tell students that are not completing assignments that they are not permitted to listen to music until they have completed enough assignments. I have also sat down with these students at times and have told them that I need a specific assignment done before the end of class that day. All three of these items work a little, but not extremely well.

However, I have also had to come to a realization that most likely if these students were to have received a grade (which most likely would have been an "F"), it (the grade) would not have been motivating to them to try and complete the assignments. Grades are more like a weapon that teachers use rather than a motivation for students. So, my biggest thing is trying to figure out how to help these students to succeed in my class. I don't have the answers, plus I highly doubt that even if I did find something that worked for me and my students, that it would work for everyone in their classes. However, if I do find something that works, I will still post it here so that everyone that wants to try it and tweak it (as we do as teachers), you may do so.

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