Coaching Exhausted Students at the End of the School Year
July 21, 2017
This was a Very Powerful Academic Year. I learned a great deal about the needs of my students, while I hope they gained helpful strategies, from me, that that will lead them to ultimate success in the sciences and beyond. At this time I’d like to share some simple observations about how we negotiated the final weeks of the year. As always, the fourth quarter is a time of panic and fatigue for ALL students, when failure seems imminent in the face of mounting pressure for final grades. This, however, was NOT my first rodeo.
Academic Coaching Accessibility adaptability Acknowledgement
As a Coach, I know that the last ten seconds of the race is JUST as important the first ten seconds and that my job is to encourage my students to stay strong up until the very end.
This requires a 24/7 commitment……OKAY…..16/7…..a person’s gotta sleep.
My students MUST trust that I am there for them; that I am chugging away behind the scenes and anticipating what they might need to succeed in the final stretch.
As parents and teachers in the know are WELL aware, the final quarter of the school year is a myopic time when material that RATIONALLY should be covered over the span of weeks, is presented in a matter of days. I do NOT blame the teachers, it is just, unfortunately, the nature of the contemporary overachievement ‘beast’.
But fear NOT!! As I said above, this is not my first go round.
My Chemistry Student
For each of my students, the rigors of the end of the academic year were surprisingly similar. They were given the option for either cumulative or fourth quarter final exams. Each class voted for a fourth quarter only test, assuming that being responsible for only a fraction of the total subject matter would be “easier”. It WASN’T. This brings me to my primary point, which is that each was SLAMMED with the most conceptually difficult elements of Chemistry in this final grueling stretch of the year.
This is a contentious systemic issue which I can discuss with anyone who cares to do so, just email me for my Skype address and brew some tea for a LONG chat.
Suffice it to say, we had to adapt VERY quickly to the situation.
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As I have stated before, I am a VERY visual learner.
My motto is always: “If you can picture the narrative, you will own the narrative”.
Slides (example set above) were made and gone over and over……..and over. Questions were asked and color-coded notes were taken in wire-bound notebooks.
Test formatting was also a hurdle. Chloe’s exam would be entirely in SAT-style Scantron form. Luckily, this was only a partial concern in that it was mentioned at the beginning of the year, given extra attention in in an afternoon after-school program delivered by the instructor and pronounced boldly on the Review Subject Checklist sheet for the final. In our last session before the final we ran through test questions in Organic Chemistry, in detail, with a promise made that she would complete the other subject sections on her own.
When it comes right down to it, the only question that matters is: What is the student walking away with, from this or any class, as a lesson on how to deal with life as a committed, capable and confident human being?
The “Take-Home” Message for Chemistry is actually pretty basic.
What matters is that these simple concepts are understood to be an integral part of what it means to be an educated, responsible adult.
I have asked my students to express how they experienced this year with me. I’ll bring you those responses when I get them. It IS the summer after all.
I AM confident that they are looking forward to continuing our time together in The Fall.
I see this our together as a journey, one that will end with them going off to start their college careers as independent thinkers who are ready for ANYTHING that life may thrown at them.