Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Jillian

Since our principal was out today, I helped out with lunch duty so there would still be three teachers. It turned out to be a nice day outside, and I basically just sat and chatted with one of our new seventh graders, Jillian. We have a handful of students who just joined us this year in the seventh grade, and all are having trouble adjusting to the level of work expected of them. The rest of the seventh grade has a double advantage: not only did they have last year to adjust to our standards, they are also ahead in each subject area because we covered much more material in sixth grade than the new seventh graders covered at their schools last year.

Anyway, Jillian is a really nice girl, had the highest average in the sixth grade at her old school, and is clearly an intelligent and hard-working student. Nevertheless, her quiz grades have been very low and she is really stressed out by the transition to our school. She is improving, but not fast enough to earn good grades for the first marking period. So, I sat with her on the playground and we talked a little about strategies she can use to get her grades up in the next two weeks before the marking period ends. I know that I am willing to be a little flexible with her average if she shows marked improvement on the next quiz, and I suspect her other teachers would be, as well.

I felt like it was a really helpful conversation. I think I communicated to her that her teachers care and want to help and understand that she's a good student who is in slightly over her head right now. I also have a sneaking suspicion that she really looks up to me in particular among her teachers; she said she understands things when I explain them but has trouble understanding explanations from some of the other teachers. She didn't want to end the conversation and play with the other kids, but chose to stay and chat for nearly the whole lunch period. Oh yeah, and this is the girl who bought glasses similar to mine! So, today I realized the importance of checking in with Jillian from time to time and advocating for her among the staff, since she has chosen me as a teacher to trust with her worries.

It's nice to have conversations with students when they're not in trouble!

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