22 Mar 2016 Finish the school year strongly
by Brittany Gilbert
Spring break will soon arrive and for students and teachers that means the countdown officially begins for the end of school. What should be a time to wrap up loose ends is instead the time when students feel the need to slack off. This attitude is detrimental to the student because it sets them up for a dangerous attitude of doing only the bare minimum to get by.
Ways to finish strongly
Use class time to work only on class work. This requires a lot of will power on the student’s behalf as the tug to look at your cell phone, read a book or magazine, write notes or even nap is so much stronger. However, I guarantee that if you put your full attention to what is going on in class that day, you will have a much better chance of finishing strong. Regardless of what students might think, the last few weeks of school can make or break your grade.
Change your attitude about the end of school. Avoid the mindset where you figure out what the baseline of work is to just get by. I can’t tell you how many students would approach me to confirm that they would keep a passing grade for the semester or year even if they stopped doing any classwork and only took tests. It was disappointing and impressive all at the same time. If they put in the same amount of work on the simple assignments in class as they did doing the math to figure out what they could pass with, they would have an even better grade. Adjust your attitude to finish strong and you’ll have a much better chance.
Just do the work. The same students asking what they could get by with and still pass the class would often realize in the last few weeks that they needed a higher grade and would be scrambling asking for extra credit assignments or to make up ones they had missed.
A good idea for parents and teachers is to allow your student to suffer consequences in these situations. It always surprised me to find my senior students straddling the line of not being able to graduate because they slacked off. Encourage your student to just do the work when it’s assigned.
Most classwork is a review of what was taught in class. It’s usually easy and doesn’t require much time.
Create a homework journal. I had several students who would need a signature on their homework log every day. It was usually a simple table chart they created at home and the student was responsible for putting what was taught in class along with any assignment that was due and the teacher would sign off. This required very little work from anyone but allowed parents to see exactly what was going on in class and help keep their student accountable.
Brittany Gilbert is a former FACS teacher at Maumelle High School. She and her husband, Levi, have two sons and live in Conway. Brittany can be reached at [email protected].