In Over Our Heads….

Question:  How do I balance covering content with student’s stress levels/mental health?

Everything is written in pencil….that’s what we sixth grade teachers say….

One of the things that I struggle with is the stress level of my students. I mean…they’re kids….SCHOOL is their JOBS. All that extra (football, basketball, etc) stuff is just that….extra.

But, as an ELA teacher, I do realize that sometimes the text they’re designed to read is too difficult so I do make accommodations for that.

I make “visual videos” where I record the audio with the text so they can listen to the story as they read it.

I give them multiple opportunities to complete assignments. But, if I don’t MAKE them stay – they don’t.

We have morning “Breakfast Club” and afterschool. We have Homework Detention and we’re allowed to pull students during their elective times to make up assignments or get additional assistance.

One of the greatest benefits of the Flipped Classroom is that I do have more time to work with students in small group or on an individual basis if they don’t get it.

But for many 6th graders, “I don’t get it” really means, “I don’t want to do this”…’s a coping mechanism in my opinion. One that we have to break in 6th grade or else everyone is MISERABLE.

I will continue to make accommodations, but I won’t enable -nor will I lower my expectations. I think that’s my responsibility as an educator….to create responsible citizens. So I won’t stop – I can’t afford to. The lives I shape and mold are too important.

Until the next time,

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  1. I have a no zero policy in my class. I don’t allow students to accept a zero. They are required to do one of the following:

    1. Come to Lunchbox (a lunch opportunity to complete work)
    2. take work home after a parent phone call
    3. Schedule time before or after school
    4. Complete work during FIDO (a day where all students who have Fs, incompletes, Ds, or zeros make up missing work or late work.

    Some students are happy to do nothing and for so long teachers have let them take the zero instead of pushing to get the work done that they just do nothing. Students in our program know that they have a lot of time to complete work, and there isn’t a huge time pressure. A lot of teachers might say that not giving students a time crunch is not preparing them for the real world, but I work in a drop-out prevention program, and our goal is to keep students motivated and get them to the end. Students are often hard workers in their jobs, but can’t make that connection with school work, so we don’t push them, stress them with time crunches. But, we do push them to complete work. No excuses.

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