Lack of Learning

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by NDIUSuperfan, Mar 22, 2015.

  1. NDIUSuperfan

    NDIUSuperfan Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2012
    Messages:
    46
    Likes Received:
    1
    This is a debate I've been mulling over in my head for months now, and I'd love to hear what others think about it.

    My high school hired a new principal my freshman year- last year. He has made some radical changes to my small school (~140 class size). Some good, some bad. His new brainchild is something I'll refer to as 'Success Time.' For one half-hour MTTF, all students attebd this period in a classroom you are assigned to. The levels are classified as remediation, reinforcement, and enrichment. Basically, it breaks down into those who need severe help, those who need a little help, and those who are being prepped for college.

    The subjects taught are only math and English. For example, I am in English/SAT enrichment Success Time. I had no choice in where I would be placed.

    The idea behind Success Time is a good one. Absolutely no problem with it from me. Kids who need extra help or can't afford SAT prep receive it for free four days a week. Here's my problem with it: the teachers.

    For my Success Time, I have a business teacher. She has no idea how to teach us English enrichment, and she's told us this on a daily basis. We are handed old SAT practice packets, told to complete them, then we go over the answers. When we ask why a certain question is wrong, she tends to fly off the handle and scream at us to shut up. We have no idea why the answers we get are wrong, which is a big part of understanding the SAT (I took it last Saturday.)

    What is the point of Success Time now? If we aren't truly learning from a teacher who is experienced and knowledgeable about the subject matter being taught, isn't it simply a waste of time? The schedule we are on for Success Time takes 5-10 minutes away from each one of my 7 periods. Wouldn't it be more beneficial to keep those 10 minutes in my Honors English class, with a teacher who has a Master's degree in English, rather than spend 30 minutes learning answers from a teacher with a Bachelor's in Business?

    To sum it all up, I simply do not see the point of this extra time if you aren't being instructed by someone who can explain where you're going wrong, and to help you be the best student you can be. But at the end of the day, I don't know everything, and if this is my biggest complaint in my high school career, then I've been truly blessed. I'll have to do what I'm told all throughout my life, but I'd love to hear what an unbiased source thinks of this program.

    Thank you all for your time!
     
  2. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2011
    Messages:
    3,092
    Likes Received:
    2,452
    Superfan, sounds like the school is trying some new things which I am not opposed to. Idea sounds great on the surface but as you mention a teacher who is not well versed in English SAT prep is teaching this. It is frustrating for them too. Couple suggestions... Be proactive. Have you scheduled extra tutoring from the English teachers at your school to review items that you missed and want further explanation? Also, SATs are their own beast and own way of doing things. It is why good SATs cost so much because they understand the thought of them and how to teach it to kids. Teachers don't necessarily get training in this. Also if the school asks for feedback provide it in a logical and construcive. Maybe the school can evaluate rotating in math and English teachers to help provide some better explanations.
     
  3. NDIUSuperfan

    NDIUSuperfan Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2012
    Messages:
    46
    Likes Received:
    1
    NavyHoops, totally agree that the idea is a good one, just not a fan of the execution. I've considered getting together with the top 5-10 kids in my sophomore class to write a proposal to our principal, but we're all a little hesitant because we think we'd get ignored/punished. Not even our student council has any sway; they aren't even trusted to plan homecoming week decorations anymore.
     
  4. USMAROTCFamily

    USMAROTCFamily Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2013
    Messages:
    630
    Likes Received:
    172
    Personally, I think it is great to have dedicated time to do practice tests for your SAT/ACT preparation. Use this time to work on the practice questions and then use the results of these practice tests to see the trends where you are weak. You can then take time outside of this class period to approach your subject matter teachers for additional assistance.
     
  5. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Messages:
    7,547
    Likes Received:
    1,009
    Agree with NavyHoops recommendations. I would add a couple things:
    1. It might be worth a talk with the principal from an overall effectiveness of the program perspective, where you keep it as little about yourself as possible. The risk of being ignored is not bad as at least you tried. There is a risk of some form of 'punishment', but larger numbers can provide some protection if you go in as part of a group.
    2. In English, some things are just the way they are and defy any rational explanation. eg. when to use it's or its, why it's 'i' before 'e' except after 'c' or when sounding like 'a' as in neighbor, or weigh... and a thousand others. I suppose the teacher could explain the rule again, but that's about it.
     
  6. MedB

    MedB Parent

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2012
    Messages:
    593
    Likes Received:
    116
    Superfan,

    First... Kudos to you for wanting to make a difference and also on your writing skills; quite articulate for a HS sophomore.

    As for specific suggestions...
    • Absolutely engage to make your school better. Sacrifice and managed risk in pursuit of service beyond yourself is the essence of military service. If you are on this board, you know that.
    • Invest in making the idea work, not going backwards. And present it that way. You will find people more open to further leveraging their ideas, then moving against them.
    • Understand a hard reality about public schools; more time, energy, money, etc is spent on struggling students than it is on enriching excelling students. That is not pretty or even politically correct to articulate in some circles; but it is true. So perhaps this Success Time plan is working quite well for the other two student groups. You will want to keep that in mind as you work to make it be better for your group (see #2)
    • Come to the table with solutions, not just challenges. Yes you will need to (briefly) make the case for change, but after that most of the attention should be on possible solutions. Also, be open to leadership taking your solution and further leveraging it.... just as you did with their idea.
    • Employ some lateral thinking in your solutions. Instead of focusing exclusively on SAT prep for example, perhaps there is room to broaden the definition of "Success" by considering the additional benefits of things such as...
      • Tutoring other groups
      • Community Project time
      • School Improvement work
      • Enrichment Projects such as writing and creating learning materials/play/movie/public presentation
      • etc
    • Finally, be humble and grateful that your principal is investing in the topic at all. That doesn't mean you should just blindly accept what you have, but keep in mind as you work to make things better that many schools do not even have this opportunity.
    Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

    PS: Wonderful potential SA/ROTC essay topic for you. ;)
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2015
    kinnem likes this.
  7. NDIUSuperfan

    NDIUSuperfan Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2012
    Messages:
    46
    Likes Received:
    1
    Kinnem- great idea! I've never thought about asking the kids in the remediation course if it helps them with their math/English skills.

    MedB- Thank you very much for the kind words! I've got to thank my 8th grade teacher for that one- I probably wrote around 25 papers that year. I was very blessed in receiving an outstanding education Pre-K-8.
    Totally agree on the struggling students comment. I come from a 'No Child Left Behind' state which sadly means that no child gets ahead either :(
     
  8. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2007
    Messages:
    2,580
    Likes Received:
    800
    My first thought about SAT prep by regular teachers is that as a profession, teachers have the lowest aggregate average SAT scores.

    OK, teachers... flame on. But it is true.
     

Share This Page