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Getting "underachievers" to work for you


From: Judy Decker (jdecker_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Mon Jul 16 2001 - 15:06:03 PDT

I do not accept student failure in my classes (Yes, I do lose one or
two a year -- but not without a "fight"). Bunki posted at the end of
her message yesterday asking what to do with the kind of kid who likes
to cause stress....Well, first of all, these kids don't cause stress
for me (they are just kids - you know - testing you - some kids like
to see their teachers get mad). We are lucky-- we have a room we can
remove the students to if they are making learning for others
difficult. Our special room is called the 95/45 room. It means that
95% of the students behave -- these students deserve 45 minutes of
uninterrupted instruction. I don't think any of our classes are 45
minutes long--but the name stuck.

When a student does something very minor he/she gets a warning (I
record these in my "Naughty Book" -- my own name is even in there for
the little things I do wrong). If the student does something else
minor -- I give them a minor misconduct (and mark the "Naughty Book").
That usually stops the misbehavior in 95% of the kids.....but for
those who continue -- We can send them to the 95/45 room.

Students who get behind in their work then must come in after school
to make up their work. I am there everyday anyway so it isn't taking
up any additional time for me. In every case where I have received
administrative support, I have been able to get students to work in my
class. Most students would rather work for me than spend two to four
hours in a Tuesday/Thursday school detention (where they can not talk
and must do academic work).... and most would rather talk to me than
the administrators.

In my ten years at this middle school, I have had very few students
fail. The only ones who fail are those who refuse to come in after
school to finish the projects (or at least get enough done to meet my
minimum requirements for a passing grade).

Most staff members do not like this practice that I do (working with
students on my own time). But now they at least accept it as my own
way to get the students to behave in my class. I think before they
were worried that the idea would catch on and they might be forced to
tutor their students after school for free. So far this hasn't
happened --- and I don't see it happening in the future either (we do
have a pretty strong union).

I have my Naughty Book form and writing contracts on my Web page (the writing contract was
developed from one a list member sent to me). The writing contract is
given to all who get sent to the 95/45 room and to students after they
have received two minor misconduct violations.

I know Bunki has some good ideas to share on how she handles this kind
of student -- maybe she will join in?

Marvelous Monday!

Judy Decker