The last two weeks were the last weeks of our first quarter. As we are fully virtual with an in-person tutoring option, we are treating our quarters as if they are semesters. In other words, at the end of each 9/10 week block, the students have a "mid-term" or a "final exam" because they only have 3 of the usual 6 classes they would take. It isn't necessarily ideal but it was the best we could do as to not completely overwhelm our students at the secondary level and cause issues where they were plopped in front of a screen for 6 or more hours per day. (That's not to say they aren't spending that kind of time on screens anyway but that's neither here nor there.)
As such the last two weeks were a bit of a whirlwind. I had students who finally realized that I do know what I'm talking about and yes, those pesky assignments I ask you to do each day ARE going to factor into your grades and if you aren't doing them, your grades will reflect it.
I think it's interesting that this is not a phenomenon relegated to only secondary students. I had plenty of these conversations when I taught elementary school as well. What is it about our young people that they just don't understand that, yes, your EFFORT makes the biggest difference. Even though I say it to them at least 5 days a week (once a day but usually more), they just don't hear it. Maybe they don't want to? I don't know. It's interesting though.
Over the last two weeks as I began to mention that report cards were coming up, I began to get bombarded with emails from students asking about late/missing work, etc. Of course I will accept late work....however, it is unrealistic for any student to believe they are suddenly going to get the motivation to do 10 weeks worth of make up work in a night or two. (I actually had a student, who has not turned in a single assignment since school started, tell me that he was going to do all of his missing work Thursday night. I had to give him an A for his determination but I also wasn't surprised that he didn't accomplish that goal -- if you aren't motivated enough to do the work alongside me during class, it's hard for me to believe you'll have the motivation to do it all on your own in one night.)
But I have some hope. As many students who started to really fret that they might not pass the quarter, perhaps this can be a learning opportunity. So many of our students (I say "our" because it is true across my school) are not completing the asynchronous lessons they should be doing in the afternoon. Those lessons add up as well. I think perhaps my determination to encourage the students that November 2 offers them a grade reset will really help. I mentioned it many times on Thursday and Friday and some kids who just made passing with a D- seemed quite relieved that they have a chance to prove themselves now.
What's the most remarkable is that they probably think they have to prove themselves to me, but of course they don't. They have to prove to themselves that they can do this. I hope perhaps reminding them of that going forward will make a difference. I have always believed they can...now I just have to get THEM to believe it.
We are starting a new learning cycle this week as well. It is the 2nd cycle in unit 2. Now that they have several cycles under their belt and are more in-tune to their grades, I have high hopes I can really push them this time and show them what success feels like. As we do not have school for the students on Tuesday due to the election, I decided to take Monday as a "reset" day. We are going to do some goal setting activities and they are going to get to mingle and get acquainted with their new learning group.
As I have also learned along this virtual path, I have put some changes in place that should help them to stay better focused during our groups and be more productive on the outside of that. I really do have high hopes this second quarter will be better than the first, not only for them but also for me. I do plan to emphasize to them that even though I am an adult and I have taught for many years, I'm still figuring this virtual thing out too and we have to adjust as we go to make it work better for us all.