There are two things I have to nail in the coming months:
One, there is a complete and total lack of understanding of how much work needs to be done on projects outside of school in order for the students to be successful. I need to find a way to get students to spend at least one hour working on projects and college assignments at night.
This is one of those troubling conversations to have with adolescents because social pressures quickly shape the conversation — nobody does that, my cousin at Central does no work and has straight As, the kids at SLA do nothing — none of which are true and all of which render additional conversation difficult. I’m going to build slowly into this by asking them to chart the one hour they spent at home on the work. I might provide suggestions for what work they could do and let them decide which parts they take on.
Two, there is a complete disconnect between quality projects and grades. While I spend a significant amount of time talking about what makes a project outstanding, I still hear the following things way too much:
* “My goal is to improve my grades.”
In some ways, this is an empty statement because we’re much more interested in the quality of the final project and talking about that. It’s not that grades are irrelevant, it’s that if you develop and complete a quality project the grades will always follow. It’s worrisome on my part — why are they still talking about grades instead of the quality of the work?
* “I worked hard so I deserve a good grade.” Maybe. If I’ve done my job right, the work required for a project can’t be done in one sitting. If I’ve done my job right, you understand that working hard the day before something is due is not the same thing as working all along. If I’ve done my job right, they’re learning to (sorry cliche police) work better.