Saturday, February 11, 2012

Figuring It Out On Your Own

As I was leaving school on Friday, a student wanted to use my phone and then hang out in the room while she waited for her ride. We chatted for a bit, and our talk turned to grades. I congratulated her on her recent high test score, and she mentioned that she's really proud of herself this year. Her lowest grade is an 82%. She's a sophomore. She's one of my more diligent students, and I wondered out loud why she wasn't in NHS, and she mentioned that she was a slacker her freshman year, and now her GPA reflects that.

I asked what would have helped her do better as a freshman. We batted around ideas. Here were basically all her responses:
* Would it have helped hearing from older students about the importance of grades?
-- No, I'd just tune them out and think they thought they were "all that"

* Would it have helped if adults talked about the importance of GPAs and college?
-- No, bla bla bla, just adult talk.

* Do you think anything would have helped?
-- No, I think I just had to figure it out on my own.

But that makes me wonder. Maybe it doesn't seem like we're getting through at the time, but maybe we're all planting seeds for future actions. Maybe collectively it's just a process everyone has to go through and who knows what will finally get through, so we have to keep trying and not get discouraged if there's not INSTANTANEOUS reversal of bad study habits.

I'm also thinking of a second student this year who's now a junior. This student was a bit flaky her first 2 years. Did the bare minimum and had the grades to prove it. All of a sudden this year, she's in the A and B range. She finally figured out that grades matter and that she IS smart and doesn't have to act the fluff head.

It's nice when you see things change for the better.


  1. The sky's the limit for them wonder-kids, but yes from personal experiences I would say the extremely brilliant ones are usually contented with achieving the bare minimum. It takes quite a bit of effort to get their engines all warmed up. Peace.

  2. Maybe it's just something to expect and we just keep plugging away to make a difference for the future when they're actually ready for the information.

  3. I see this in my own son, a junior, and his answers would be the same as the student's you'd asked. Maturity kicks in? As teachers we all know those kids whom we've spoken to a dozen times, encouraged and cajoled into producing work, yet little to no change happens... Not until they figure it out on their own.