Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Wake Up Call

The continuation high school is on a different schedule than the traditional high schools. They complain a lot when school starts in July, but I don’t hear those same complaints when they get three weeks off in October, an extra week for winter break, and two extra weeks for spring break.

Because of this, they don’t have a traditional summer school. They have intersessions. They get a week of intersession each time they have a break—in October, in April, and now.

I knew this intellectually, but I didn’t expect to get called to sub for it. The last three weeks of school I was at one of the other schools, so the continuation high school was a bit off my radar.

Intersession is voluntary. The students have to sign up if they want to attend. Then it’s first-come-first-served as space can be limited. The students can earn up to five credits in the subject they take. But they can’t be absent.

The assignment for the week was to plow through 11 chapters of the book, doing all the questions along the way. Each chapter had about five sections.

Many of the students in class were seniors. Well, now they’d be “super” seniors. Graduation for the class of 2010 was last week. If they were supposed to be class of 2010, they are now 5th year seniors, AKA super seniors.

You’d think they’d be motivated to get work done. Not so much.

Three girls would not stop talking. It wasn’t the talking that bothered me. It was the not stopping. They didn’t even finish the first chapter yesterday. By my calculations, if they want to finish the work for the week, they needed to finish at least two chapters. (They had six hours.)

One of those girls, Ana, was upset that the government class was cancelled due to lack of interest (not enough students enrolled). She was almost finished with her science credits. Ana talked about how the administration was ruining her schooling. (Her language was a bit more colorful, and it included anecdotes about arguments with the principal and various teachers.)

The rest of the class had suggestions for her.

Jesus commented that rather than battling the staff, the students needed to emulate them. His implication: the students had not graduated from high school, but the staff had. Jesus noted that the teachers get paid whether or not the students finish the work. But he was aware that the teachers would help if only the students made the effort.

I was shocked to hear this come from him. I’ve had Jesus in class a bunch of times, and he’s usually the one goofing off. He actually got a lot of work done yesterday. I was impressed.

Then Cassie added her two cents. She said that everyone had told her that she needed to stop messing around and concentrate on getting through high school. This time wouldn’t last forever. But Cassie didn’t believe them. She figured that she would get it all done.

Now Cassie knows that her sister was right. She missed graduating with her class. When Cassie found out that she wasn’t graduating, she ran away from home for two weeks (missing the last two weeks of school). She’s back now.

Cassie said that it is up to her to get it done, and she has a goal. She wants to finish her credits by the middle of August. Others are telling her she’ll finish by November, but she thinks she can prove them wrong. Cassie is determined to try.

Again, I found this interesting coming from her. Cassie is another one who spent most of her time in class doing next to nothing. It sounds like she got her wake-up call. I hope she does prove the naysayers wrong. She worked really hard yesterday, and if she keeps it up, I think she could do it.

I’m not sure if Ana heard the good advice from her peers. She still has that teen attitude of the world is out to get her.

As for Jesus and Cassie, I have hope for them. I’ve seen this change in attitude before. I don’t see much of those students after. They tend to graduate pretty quickly.

1 comment:

  1. It's nice when you repeat sub at a school so you get to know the students, and can actually see progress.

    Super senior sounds way cooler than it is.

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