My school has an Advisory program designed to promote strong teacher-student relationships. The philosophy is that students and families are well known by at least one adult at the school so that students do not fall through the cracks. The adviser works with a group of 16-20 students for four years, from the first day of high school to the last. The goal is not to lose any of your advisees.
A few days ago, I thought I’d lost one of my students. Deadlines had come and gone; the student hadn’t completed all her of requirements, including some Cyber High courses. Our relationship, always tenuous, had erupted in conflict, and we were no longer on speaking terms. I’d resigned myself to letting her go and focusing on my graduating seniors.
But my good friend and colleague, the vice principal at the school, did not give up, and neither did my student. While I prepared for graduation and began packing up my classroom, my advisee sequestered herself in the vice principal’s office, plugging away on the computer, hour after hour.
On Wednesday night, amid Senior Dinner festivities, my student completed her math class. I was happy with her accomplishment and hopeful that she would complete the World History component the next day. But because of our fractured relationship, I did not approach my student to offer assistance.
Luckily, the vice principal reached out. I received a phone call yesterday morning. She asked me whether I’d be open to helping my student with the history portion. Thank you, Beth, for your leadership.
I quickly agreed, went to school, and spent a couple hours coaching my advisee on World War I, Gandhi, and fascism.
My student and I didn’t apologize to each other for our previous mistakes. We didn’t spend time rebuilding our relationship. We just talked about history and did the work. There were no grudges from either side. We even allowed ourselves to laugh a couple times.
Later that day, my advisee passed the class and earned her right to graduate today on stage, on time, with the rest of her class.