I'm in the final days of the school year and I'm filling out the report cards for my eighth graders. Teaching the subjects that I teach (ELA and American History) to 8th graders is difficult one the first term is done. This is mainly because they have already applied and been accepted to high schools by the end of the term. Once the second trimester starts they don't care about my classes because they know there will be no consequences for doing poorly. They have already been accepted into high school. Of course if they don't care about the grades then you can imagine what their behavior is like. In fact, I asked one elementary school principal what he does with his eighth grade classes and he gave me the following reply:
"Well, we don't ask them to do much"
This is not very inspiring and believe me I don't ask my eighth grade students to do much either1. However, there needs to be a better way aside from just asking them not to do much. I think the beginning of the solution can be found in Lakewood, NJ2. At least one year they tried to make the registration later to solve this problem. I am not sure if this worked or not but at least it is a good start3.
I understand and respect the need for high schools to know how many students they have coming in for the next school year. They have budgets to make and they need to know how much of a short fall they will have in their budgets4. On the flip side of that is the need for the teachers to have some kind of knowledge that the students will behave and learn somewhat. Moving the application and acceptance dates would help solve this problem.
- Even though I don't ask much from them it doesn't make me happy. I would much rather be teaching them a regular instead of dumbing down the lessons starting at the middle of the school year. ↩
- This was told to me by a rebbe who lives in Lakewood. ↩
- Yes, I am actually giving credit to Lakewood for something. I am as shocked as you are. ↩
- Most schools are in the red on tuition alone. They need to find other funds to break even or get into the black. ↩