Are students & teacher on the same page?
Are students & teacher on the same page?
For this project to work students and teachers must be in alignment not just with the direct goals of the project but they must agree on what is being taught to them and how it is being presented. Before stepping away from the main purpose of all the stakeholders’ reason for getting together every day, to teach, to learn, and to grow together there must be some validation for driving to school and taking the bus to school every day. The surveys taken in this project (research reaction) and on a school level (natural source) indicate that most are agreement of why we are show up every day, but that does not mean that every day is going to be blissful. This researcher has asked many students throughout the year if they did not have to come to school what would they be doing? Many give a common answer that illuminates on the fact they know it is not their choice really and that they have gotten used to the idea of someone else making decisions for them. Most of them say they are learning from their teachers and that for the most part, their teachers care what happens to them.
Some think they are ready to make their own decisions or not
But between their parents and their teachers, eighth-graders try to show they are close to being adults. Sometimes they show they want to be in control. This is a good time to approach them about the realities of life and how important it is for them to take school seriously. This is a good time to ask them to collaborate about the problems they are having in their classrooms and ask them how they feel about their learning environment. For the most part, most of them have adapted to their learning environments probably because they are used to it.
First thing first
We had to show them that there is a possibility that some of them may not being adequately prepared for high school. We do this without placing blame on any one, we just advised them that it is a quagmire of a situation to try and accommodate all students performing at different academic levels, coming from diverse backgrounds, always automatically getting moved up to the next grade in their climb to high school. Since they were in kindergarten, they have always performed well enough to get moved up a grade each year. Many of them caught onto this fact and decided not to motivate themselves to produce academically, to show up for school consistently, and when they do miss school, not take the initiative make-up work they missed out on during their absence. Some also have come to the realization that this is the last year they can look away from their academic performance because they have been told in high school they have to take and pass state test to advance to the next grade, no more automatic advancement to the next grade, so they are told.
The group A students have academic coaching
The group A students had two consulting teachers with them every day since the beginning of the school year. We were their inspiring them, making sure they were engaged in the learning process, making sure they were taking notes (providing them with pencil, pens, paper as needed), Since we know what homework is assigned we would work with them during their tutorial (study hall) period, and many times we would meet with them during lunch to complete these assignments; we did what needed to be done. They already have learning disabilities, reasons to fall behind, but we made sure the chance of that happening were slim and none. We helped them to prepare for test as well and depending on their IEP, test read aloud. We met with their parents annually for their IEP meetings, talked with their parents routinely, not just when there were concerns but to also to let the parents know we were looking out for them in school.
Group B students did not have academic coaching
We and the group A students were in the same classrooms as the group B general education students learning right along with them. As co-teachers, in the classroom, we would support all the students equally, which made the core teachers job much easier. We would focus on class support and classroom management leaving most of the instructions in the hands of the core teacher who set the lesson plan for the course. We did, however, meet with them usually days prior to the lessons to see if any differentiation would be required for the group A students. The group B students did not have academic coaching like the group A students and in some cases their academic performance showed that they needed it.
Both groups were informed
Both groups were informed on the goals of the project, that they should take their education seriously, and that a positive learning environment goes a long way towards helping them stay focused. Since we had a working relationship with the group A students and a connection with their parents, they took the project seriously and, in many cases, provided feedback for us when they found it hard to learn and or concentrate in any given class. We would intervene of course, to mitigate the chances of their being disruption during class. We would look out for the group B students as well to make sure the learning environment was positive and supportive. However, group B students did not usually come to us for their support in classroom disruptions. Perhaps there was a stigma that we were there for the SWDs and if they were to seek our assistance than they too could be considered in the special education program. This is just my speculation since I have aided both A and B students and many of the B student would shun my offer for support even thou they were lost in class and did not know what was going on. All in all, it was a pleasure to work with the group A students because we had their cooperation.