Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dear Sam...

You came to me today asking if you can still earn credit in Spanish, should you complete the mountain of back work you have by the end of the year. Let me tell you first that I’m proud of you for coming to me. It takes a lot of bravery to take responsibility for your actions, and even more to try to make things right. To answer your question, yes, if you meet the standards for the course through your practice work, exams and projects by the end of the year, you would earn credit for the course. I have to tell you, though, that this answer is a little misleading. Let me explain.

The course began at a fairly slow pace back in September, and we spent a lot of time focusing on the habits and routines that language students need to have in order to do well in their studies: Spending time every day in practice of some kind, learning how to effectively memorize new vocabulary and expressions, and finding resources to help you both in and out of class. You saw a decent amount of practical Spanish, but the best part of your work was spent on building a foundation that, once built, would support you in the deeper work to follow.

By the time we got to December, the class had picked up in pace and intensity. You noticed that you were seeing a lot more vocabulary, the language was getting more complex and we were being asked to put the foundational work into practice regularly. It was at this point that you began to feel overwhelmed and, understandably, started to avoid the work you felt you weren’t equipped to complete. I hope you realize now that this strategy is not an effective one. Recognizing this is an important first step in getting back on track, but it is not the only one you will need to take if you will be successful in the class.

When we reconvene next week, we will spend a short amount of time getting up to speed, but very quickly we will pick the pace up beyond where we were when we ended the semester. If you don’t have the foundational skills in place, then keeping up will be extremely challenging. Add to that the fact that you will also still doing work from earlier in the year, and you can see that your brain will have to be operating on two levels, both at lightning speed, in order to stay with the class as it continues to move forward.

The real question to ask, therefore, is this: Is it to your benefit to work to earn credit in Spanish, or does it serve you better to drop the course and come back to it next September? Consider all the pieces of the puzzle in your answer. You’re in 8th grade, and you do not need this class to move into 9th grade. By contrast, you do need to pass your other core classes (math, science, history, language arts) to move on. How are you doing in those classes? Understanding the commitment required to get through Spanish, will you be able to hold your own in ALL of your classes during the spring? Also, how motivated are you to do what I’m telling you is coming? I’m not asking you how confident you feel, but how willing you are to take on the challenge. I, and others, can do a lot help you find the confidence you need, but only YOU can motivate you.

The decision to continue or not is one that you should not make alone. Talk to people you trust, who know you and who can advise you well. If that’s me, I want you to know that I’m very happy to help. All you have to do is say the word. I am very invested in your success here at this school, and I will do whatever I can to see it come to pass. I will support you fully in whatever your decision is, and I will continue to be there for you after you’ve chosen, whatever your choice eventually is. If you have questions, please ask them. It’s important that you have all the information at your fingertips, so you can make a knowledgeable choice. I’m in my room. You have my email and my AIM username. I’m on Facebook, too. Any of these will get a quick response. I'll send positive energy out to you while I await your decision.


1 comment:

Mrs. Chili said...

How often do students actually look at their situations with such calm rationality? I've got a bunch of ADULT students (though I use the term loosely) who, in week five of an eleven week course, have a grade point average somewhere in the low thirties. NONE of them is doing anything to amend that, and after mid-term, I'm not sure it'll be mathematically possible for them to pull themselves out.

The kicker? A bunch of them thinking they're graduating in March...