As the school year ramps up again, I wanted to put out a modified version of a Memo of Understanding
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memo_of_understanding for parents and students. It seems each year in the rush to get through the first weeks of school parents and students forget the basic first good steps and then the spiral downwards occurs and then the need for obtaining a tutor and then the ‘wish for promises’ from a tutor. Pay attention to your child’s folder or agenda book. A student is generally not able to self regulate until well into high school. Some people never quite figure it out. Be the best person you can be by helping your child check for due dates, completeness, work turned in on time. Not only will this help your child learn to create and regulate a schedule, it prevents the following types of conversations I always disliked as a teacher ("Can you just give my child one big assignment to make up for the D/F so they can pass"; "I am going to talk to the principal about this grade - you are unfair"; "I had no idea you gave homework or long term assignments - we never had that when I was a student"; "you mean my child has to catch up on all that for quarter or semester grades - they won’t be able to do anything fun this weekend or go to their practice"....). When you are following the folder, agenda book, grades - you WILL know when something is off and can immediately do something about the situation. As a tutor, I am able to do the best work before the crisis hits (averting the crisis) as opposed to cleaning up the mess after the crisis hits. The minute the student and parents see grade slippage is the time to look for a tutor. Many schools have online grades where you can look at assignments and tests once a week and you can have your child do the same. This is called responsibility. I do not mean a one off quiz grade, I mean the two or three off which occur over a couple weeks and can effect harm on overall grades. Waiting until a student is already in a downward spiral means dealing with what the student did not understand AND keeping them up on what is current. A way to think about this is your desk after returning from a two to three week vacation. I have never met some one who did not benefit from understanding grading, most especially when grades are weighted
http://www.blacksdomain.com/files/Notes/Calculating_WA.php and it is rare when I can find some one who understands how GPA is calculated normally, with AP courses, etc.
Tutoring is important - and so is being a scholar athlete. It is not one or the other, it is both. Please don’t frame one as more important, rather, speak to your child’s coach and see what can be done to allow for a bit less practice time to have a tutor come in. In the long run, this is always preferable to having to pull a kid out of sports if things head south. It has been my experience, great coaches always want scholar athletes and will work with parents/students to make an accommodating schedule, even if it seems to be an awkward conversation.
I can not promise to raise your child’s grade - if I could do that, I would be in a whole other line of business with snakes and oil and funny signs. What I can promise is to put in 150% with your child and you to help get them back on track. I can let you know specifically where your child is having a problem or two and zero in on that content area. I can let you know if I think this is more than the routine spring time blahs or too much vacation and too little review. I can offer to communicate with your child’s teacher(s) to see if there is something to prepare for and get ahead of.
One thing I can do is help you understand how grading is done, what it means and does not mean, what a rubric is and how it is used, when to question how something is graded or to accept reality. I can work with you, the parent, on better communication with the teacher on behalf of your child. Part of being a tutor is also being a resource /conduit for obtaining information to help your child learn more in a particular subject area, find ways to make learning easier, better, cheaper.
A great tutor wishes to tutor themselves right out of a job... then they can help other students. Part of doing this is helping get the right pieces in place from the beginning so a student can do well and then knows the ways to do well going forward. While failure presents opportunities for great learning experiences and stories, it rarely provides for one to feel good about what could have been.