Friday, June 23, 2006

David's Story Part 13: October 2003 at school

To Ruby:

I just received a call from David's biology teacher. He has, as we know, missing assignments. He was required to go to Saturday school this past weekend, but he did not. His teacher feels that it would not be helpful to make him make it up and has worked out a contract with him to catch up. He was supposed to have given it to me on Monday for signature.

I told her that I could do more to make him do things if I knew about it and we have agreed to keep in touch by email.

She said that he got a low C on the last exam; his grade is in trouble just because he has not been doing the work.

Considering that David had failed every single class his sophomore year, his performance was not terrible. Going to school every day was new for him. Doing almost all the work was really new to him. He was passing; he was pleased with his performance.

I got a call from David's special ed teacher. He has not been coming to class.
He is supposed to catch the bus at 6:00am. We knew that he was missing it and walking, but he said he was getting there on time. Clearly he is not. Even if he does make it on time though, he has not been going. He hangs in the hall and socializes.

So he is failing special ed support. That takes effort. He is failing at least photography and biology too...not because he does poor work, but because he does not do work. He is probably still doing okay in history because that teacher does not assign hardly any homework...everything is done in class. He may be okay in math for the same reason. He has special ed math support in the same room with the same teacher immediately after class. He really should be able to get everything done there.

There just is not much I can do about it. I will meet with the teacher, take away more of his privileges, set up an incentive program, but in the end he either does the work or he doesn't. I don't have the relationship with him that will allow me to use much emotional pressure. My good opinion just does not matter that much, not that I would be manipulative anyway. When Andrew falls behind I can just say, "This is not acceptable. You can do better and I expect you to do better." He feels bad and works harder. That aspect is just not there to the same degree.

When I talked to the special ed teacher I told her that. I said that we would meet and set up a program with him, but that we also had to protect ourselves from too much frustration. We cannot do the work for him and if he decides to dig in and not do it, there is nothing that we can do. David did fail every single class last year. He is willing to go that far. I want him to realize that he is only hurting himself. It is a shame.

His plan is to finish up at Job Corps, but at the rate he may be at Job Corps for a long time. He may end up getting a GED there.

David and I met yesterday with Ms. Jones & the other special ed teacher. It turns out that his biology grade is not salvageable and he was given a choice between staying in the class, learning what he could so that he would do better next year or dropping it, moving study skills to that period and getting to leave the house 1 1/2 hours later in the morning. He chose door number two.

We talked first though about his goals. He had already told the teachers about his plan to marry a rich man and they asked me what I thought about it. I said that I was here to help David come up with a solid Plan B. Whenever he brought up plan A again, I did not argue with him, I just reminded him that we were working on Plan B. (He really wants to distract everyone.)

Anyway we asked him how long he was willing to spend doing high school (here or at Job Corps) and he finally said he wanted to be done with no more than one year at Job Corps. It turns out that he needs to pass 5 or 6 classes every semester (when Ms. Jones figured that out she may have done the math based upon the possibility that he fails everything this term, but that was never actually mentioned). So I asked him if it was his goal to do that (I asked him this about 100 times during the meeting...I wanted everything to be phrased, by him, as his goal that we were helping him with). So, for this term we agreed that: he was doing okay in Math (since math is followed directly by a support period he gets nearly everything done there. He has material to turn in late in photography and he will take care of that on his own. History is mostly good, though there is a big out of class project coming up that he will accept help from the teachers on. English is the biggest current problem and he will accept help from the support teachers to fix it. He is currently also failing study skills because he cut so much and stopped filling out his agenda as required. Since he hates his school-provided agenda Ms. Jones says that she will accept the use of his day planner, and he agrees to keep the agenda which he will need for hall passes.

Ms. Jones will give him "tickets" to youth group on Wednesdays if he is keeping up with his work. He understands that Mr. C (dean of students) will probably call him to assign Saturday school because of the zero period truancies.

I think when he takes biology next year we should really try to schedule a support period right after. He was doing okay with the material itself, it is just writing up the lab reports that was killing him. Since writing is part of his learning disability, I think we can get support for that.

It is clear that David quickly decides that something is not worth doing. The teachers thought all the class he has missed over his teeth was part of the problem and asked if he couldn't see an orthodontist in town. I told them that was not possible but that I really hoped that future appointments would be after school.

So that's that. It was a tiring meeting, but I think it went okay.

David's Story Part 1: The Beginning
David's Story Part 14: Joy Riding

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