Saturday, December 20, 2008

Getting grades up

My excitement for the upcoming baseball coaching season started a little bit earlier this year. After losing two key players in the middle of the season last year due to grades, I decided to start early on my players this year. I pulled several kids' report cards a couple of weeks ago.

Unfortunately, early ended up being not early enough. I was shocked to see my best player (best pitcher, best catcher, my best hitter who hits #3), a senior who has a pretty decent chance of playing college ball somewhere, had failed three classes in the first semester, and three of his other classes were borderline. He's never been a bad student before, but (he says) he was suspended this fall for some sort of weird fight involving eggs (I don't know) and he never really caught up from the work. A regular B-/C student for most of his high school career - and it's not that hard to maintain those grades in high school - he didn't put for the effort required to catch up, and ended up failing way too many classes.

I like the kid a lot and I'm determined to help him get those grades up, and that means walking around and talking to his teachers a lot about his progress. It means calling him up on Friday nights to double check that he's studying. It means making him report progress to me every day. It means making him go to Coach Class every day, and making him get as much face time with all these teachers as he can. That way, if he's borderline, they'll be more likely to lean one way and not the other. One course he is failing is Honors Japanese I, a class he was randomly placed in as a Senior with no previous experience. He thinks he can't catch up in there because he missed so much class time and missed so many of the formative Japanese language tools that he was supposed to get early. I talked with the teacher, though, and hopefully the constant Coach Classes will help him catch up. Thankfully, the teacher is from Japan, where baseball is a way of life, and he loooves baseball. Maybe that will help him want to help the kid more.

I'm worried about a couple of other kids, too, and have been following them around like a specter lately. Their numbers are programmed into my phone and I will be checking on them throughout the winter break.

I kind of hate being that guy, the coach worried about his kids because of grades. And it's not because I want to win - I just know what it feels like to not play sports your senior year, and how that is something that can really be a regret for a very long time. I did it for a job, not grades, but it was still there, and I regret it. Plus, this crop of kids has a chance to play college ball and to use sports to get scholarships into college - something that last happened two years ago - but only if they're playing.

We'll see how it goes. Next year, I start even earlier. I'm still trying to work out how I'm going to help them maintain their grades during the season. I guess probably daily study hall with starting practice later than usual.


Anonymous said...

I don't think it much matters what your motivation is. The fact is, you're taking time out to help these students when it appears that nobody else gives a rat's ass about them. And for this you get a big bowl of respect from me.

What would happen if every teacher in your building "took charge" of four or five kids who were in a similar boat? Why, the students might get the impression that someone CARES about them!

This might be something worth suggesting to the Student Support Team, or the School Improvement Team. Just a thought.

Jackie said...

I agree with Baltimore Diary-- in private schools, each student has an "advisor," who stays with them throughout their time in that school (or division) and does what you're doing-- essentially, making sure no one falls through the cracks.

The major difference is that the kids you are helping need it more, in different ways, than private school kids do, which makes it even more important.

Smallest Twine said...

I'm glad I'm not the only teacher who calls (or really, I text) kids to keep them on track. For me, it's my AP Stats kids, which is an incredibly small (9 students) group of boys that I have previously taught. Although -- most of my texts are "if you aren't in class in 2 minutes I'm reporting a cut" or "you better be studying."

So what I'm saying is - thanks for making me feel like I'm not (that) weird.