Teresa Lewis has helped me with several conferences and the students have begun to improve. This is the most recent story. It also involves Abe Jajadhmy in an important role.
Rory (pseudonym) is in my II class. He does not have a very good discipline record. He was expelled from his last school. In the beginning of this semester, Rory appeared angry and unmotivated. He was disrespectful, refused to do his work, and failing his English and math class. At first, I tried simple behavior interventions, such as verbal praise, greeting him at the door and telling him I was happy to see him (even if he was a little late). I printed out his edline and praised him for the assignments he did turn in. As opposed to immediately pointing out all the missing assignments, I tried to build a bridge and a good rapport. I provided a structured classroom setting with clear expectations. I called his mother twice. These in-class interventions were effective some of the time.
Yet, all of the above were not sufficient with Rory. He continued to roll his eyes at me when I talked with him. He would say things under his breath, disrupt other students’ learning, seek negative attention, refuse to do his assignments, and refuse help with his own assignments. His other teachers were reporting similar behavior. He continued to fail both English and math.
Fortunately, Rory is on the baseball team and loves to play baseball. I knew I had support from our athletic department, so I called Abe. He and I discussed Rory’s issues. Abe organized a conference with Rory’s baseball coach and his mother. I communicated the time and purpose of the conference to his case manager and teachers. We met with Rory for about twenty minutes. We let Rory know we all cared about him and wanted him to be successful. I informed the mother about the weekly progress report and edline. The mother and I decided Rory would receive “good calls” home from me at the end of the week if he did well. The mother agreed to check his weekly progress reports every Thursday night.
Rory has greatly improved. He is doing his work. He is asking for help and being cooperative. I asked Abe to tell his coach. I spoke to his mother Friday evening, and she was pleased. She shared with me that she took some disciplinary actions at home too. She took away Rory’s skateboard and his video games. He will earn back his things one afternoon each weekend until he has several weeks of improvement.
I think the success of this student is based on team effort. I know that we often feel that we do not have time to conference with a parent, or communicate with all of the student’s other teachers. However, we only met for twenty (powerful) minutes. My e-mails to other teachers took maybe five minutes. Calling a parent with good news is pleasurable and time well spent, especially considering Rory’s history and special education issues. The team will need to be consistent and remain in communication about his progress. I hope other teachers will see the positive effects of collaborating and working together for the success of all students. I cannot stress enough how important and powerful a team effort can be. I think it is awesome that an athletic director would take the time to be involved with an individual student. 🙂
-Rebecca Frank, SMHS Special Education Teacher