What if the grades are all over the map and the grade is just the "average" of all of those wild swings? Those of us here in southern California crack up when the "average or median home price" in the country is announced ($189K) because that won't buy you a porta-potty here. But unlike inconsistent home prices, inconsistency in the classroom is a hallmark of uneven neurological development which manifests in learning problems.
Some clarification is necessary here. When students are in the classroom, the teacher is "priming, prompting and preparing". It's part of the learning process. The teacher reminds the students of "what we learned yesterday" and builds small steps (called scaffolding) in a process to move their skills toward refinement. However, in my office and in the world at large, you and your kids are required to "know it cold". I was in the post office today. There was no one to tell me to give the clerk a $10 and a $5 bill to cover the costs. It's an "automatic" skill for me and not an "emerging" one. Automatic skills represent mastered knowledge and concepts.
If you come into my office and I test your math skills and you're still counting on your fingers, don't have "automaticity" of basic facts, compute with paper and pencil every calculation of a problem and ask me the formula for determining the area of a triangle, but you're making stellar grades in math, "something does not compute here" (ah yes, pun intended!). You are likely to be one of those kids who's getting a B because consistently turning in homework is important to the teacher, so he places a lot of the "weight" of the grade on homework. It's important to know this.
What if your child is making a B and isn't doing homework or is skating by with it and is blowing the doors off the tests? This teacher likely values a strong test performance and puts a lot of "weight" for the grade on tests and quizzes. Your child is likely to be bright, learn by simply being in the presence of the instructional process (incidental learning) and may be so bored that the tedium and self-discipline associated with homework is just intolerable. Uh oh. The "arrogance of intelligence" may be at play. He learns so easily that he becomes intellectually lazy and fails to learn the organizational skills, time management and work ethic necessary to manage life. He may be bright, but may fail at life once the "production" skills increase which is likely to happen in college.
Pay attention! School is the precursor to the World of Work. Pay attention to your child's ability to keep up with instruction and with production (homework, projects, tests) because production is (probably) the only way the teacher is assured that your child is mastering the content and this is her job. If your child is not "making the grade", ask for a meeting and ask the experts about their "take" on what's going on. Ask for an assessment. Get some basic information to help you plan your next step.
What SHOULD be most important to you? How seriously is your child taking their responsibilities for school ("the work of children")? Are they putting forth a genuine effort and displaying a positive attitude? If not, what is interfering with their performance? ADHD? Learning problems? Anxiety? Depression? Giftedness? If you don't help them to develop these traits, later, their lives will be seriously impacted. They won't develop the "get up, dress up and show up" required of adults every day of our lives. School is not just about learning the facts, it is also about developing the social skills, coping skills and production skills (organizing, time management, task analysis) required for later life. Make no mistake about it. It's serious business.
I've had a few "Dads" in my practice who are the Chief EO, FO, OOs or their companies. This is what they tell me. "I need just a few rock stars. They tend toward being divas, so they're a lot of work. What I need most are those folks who truly contribute to the well-being of the entire company. We can rely on them every day to come in and do their job and support their coworkers and bring a sense of satisfaction to the workplace. They are the heart and soul of the company." Well, there's a mouthful.
When your child's teacher expresses concern, thank them profusely. They care. They honestly care. Help them to help your child. Learn what they know. Help each other. Teaching is an emotional team sport. Everyone plays their position. Get really good at yours.
Here's your homework...check the online grade system, talk to the teacher to clarify your concerns, ask for a meeting, ask for an assessment, call a learning specialist in your community. Don't accept "He's lazy", "She's not trying". Find out "why".
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