You Are Really Lucky To Get This Chance.
In Algebra, Dylan has done quite well on most things. But when he took the Chapter 7 test, he flunked it. He got 20 out of 40 right.
Against my advice, his teacher gave him the test to take home and correct during spring break. And he did something with it over spring break, but I don’t know what.
She emailed me the day after spring break ended, and told me he was getting another chance.
I told her to stop giving him chances, but thanked her for her concern. Then I talked to Dylan when he got home.
“You are really lucky to get this chance,” I said. “She’s giving you another day – so I suggest you actually use that time to do the work.”
“I know,” he said. He got out his algebra book and some papers and went to his room. Ten minutes later he said, “I’m done” and put the book and papers in his backpack.
Two days went by, and I got another email from the teacher. “Dylan needs to show his work,” she said. “I’ve given back the test for him to do that. I’m concerned that he doesn’t understand the material.”
When Dylan came home that day – a full month after he’d taken the test originally – we had another talk.
He got out his book and his paper and went to his room. Ten minutes later, he came downstairs.
“I don’t really understand how to do it,” he said. “I have to ask her.”
“Can’t you look it up on the internet?” I asked. “Or better yet, use your algebra book. That’s what the book is for.”
“It’s just easier if I ask her,” he said. “It’s just one simple question and then it’ll only take, like, five minutes to do.”
“You’re sure you’re going to ask her tomorrow?” I said. “Because I do not want to see this test at home again tomorrow. It’s already been three weeks.”
“I’m sure,” he said.
The next day Dylan said, “Um, she wasn’t there. But I’ll look it up on the internet this weekend.”
On Monday, I got another email from the teacher.
“I asked Dylan for the test this morning and he told me that he really did not understand it. I am going to walk him through a few of the problems on the test during his lunch today and then he is supposed to finish it tonight for homework. And if he does not have it fully completed by tomorrow then his grade will stay as it is.”
I emailed her back (four long paragraphs). I told her that Dylan had really had enough chances, and that the next time he fails a test, he needs to just fail the test. I explained that we have been encouraging this behavior by allowing him to continue not doing his work – and not studying for tests – and having no consequences for his actions. I assured her that not only did I want her to leave this grade as it is (20/40) but to leave the rest of them, too.
“There are no do-overs in high school, or in life,” I told her.
Then I called Bill, to decide what the consequences would be at home. Consider the ipads, video games and computers gone until the grades come up.
And if they don’t come up? Well, that’s okay, too. It’s no longer my job to fix him.
But it is my job to give him realistic consequences.