Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Different Way to Look At Remediation

We have a "watch list" of students established for our grade level PLC. This is a list we began construction on the very first week of school, and have added names to it every single marking period. This list is comprised of students who are of concerns to us based on their ABC's, their potential of becoming dropouts. What does ABC stand for?

A  is for Attendance

  • Is this student tardy to class? Tardy to a certain class? Tardy to school? Do they have frequent absences? How come? What have we done to support their coming to school on time? 

B is for Behavior
  • How does the student behave in class? Does their behavior have an effect on their academic performance, or of the academic performance of those around them? Have they been suspended from school for an extended period of time? What interventions have been put in place to help correct their behaviors? 
C is for Classwork
  • How is the student performing academically? Are they failing a subject? Are they failing more than one subject? What are we doing to provide academic assistance?
Throughout the year, we provide interventions for these students. Their school counselor works with them to determine the reason for their frequent attendance issues and puts interventions in place to try to assist these students and their families. Functional behavior assessments are performed to determine when where the most concerning behaviors are taking place, and a team meets to develop new ways to address their behavior to prevent them from being suspended out of school. Also, teachers meet with the families of these students, as well as one another to develop a plan to make sure they are receiving the proper academic supports. 

In many cases, these interventions are often enough to provide support to our students. However, in working with students, there are always extenuating circumstances. In these cases, an extra level of support is required. 

My teachers and I are in the process of a program for our students who haven't responded to our interventions so far. There may be an underlying reason why they are not responding that we may not have determined yet, or they may have fallen so far behind at this point, that they feel that they can't come back. 

Success! Class
This is where Success! class comes in. At the end of the 1st semester, our team had nine students who were in severe danger of failing the grade level, and it was clear that additional intervention would be needed. The solution, trade nine weeks of electives for a study skills class. In order for this to happen, several conversations had to take place
  • The conversation with the teachers: "I'll be willing to take the time to facilitate the class, but I will need your commitment to take a day or two of your time during the marking period to help me out." 
    • Their response? Whatever you need! I'll be happy to help!
  • The conversation with year-long electives teachers: "I understand I am taking them out of your elective for a marking period. How can they make up the time?"
    • Their response? We would be happy to work with these kids during after-school researsals and advisory periods, as long as I get them back after the nine weeks!
  • The conversation with parents: Your child is in danger of failing the 6th grade. I would like to place them in a study skills class for the next marking period.
    • Their response? Yes...all nine of them...yes! 
Parents may not always be too keen about their child starting the year with a study skills class, but when it's crunch time, they are usually pretty receptive. 

Was There Success? 
For the next marking period, these nine students came to me every other day. We worked in a computer lab so that they had access to Edmodo and Google Drive. They had folders with daily agendas and missing work in them. Special guest teachers came by each class period to work with them one-on-one and in small groups. We organized binders, organized lockers, checked grades, made sure they had supplies, and ensured that any completed missing work ended up in the teacher's mailbox for grading. The result? Well, there is still one more week of Success left, but of the nine students, only two have failing grades at this point, and we have a deeper understanding of the interventions that need to be in place for these students to be successful. 

What Happens Next? 
Students were asked to create a three-slide presentation about themselves: how they work, and what they feel they need to be successful. Our staff members are going to be given the oportunity to look at these presentations and select one student to check in on. Since we fave a staff of over one hundred, I feel pretty confident that a match will be made. 

What I Learned
Many of the things that we did to help these students weren't necessairly academically related. Instead they were more relationship driven. We made sure they were organized, had all their supplies and materials, and recognized them for their accmplishments. They were given opportunities to be successful, and took us up on that opportunity! I can't wait to see how the mentoring component works out! 

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