Suggestions for helping students out of a “schoolwork hole”

A message to Chase parents and guardians from Principal Bill Frandino:

Last week we spent some time as a faculty discussing ideas mentioned in an article, “How to Help a Teen Out of a Homework Hole” by Lisa Damour. We know we are not dealing with “teens”, but many of the ideas apply to students of any age.

Here is a list of ideas we think ALL of us adults should consider:

  • Empathy will get us further than anger. Finding out a student is behind on schoolwork can easily trigger an anger response; but what students need are “problem-solving partners” who want to understand what they are going through.
  • Especially young students do not have the time management, task prioritization, organizational skills that we develop as we get older. This makes operating under remote conditions difficult for students. This has been a huge realization for me (Mr. Frandino) in particular. When students attend school in-person, the teacher and staff provide most of this “executive functioning” support. When students are remote; they need support on these items to plan effectively. Otherwise, they may tend to log out of a remote session and choose a less productive activity, like TikTok.
  • It is tempting to jump to solutions. Be kind, curious, and collaborative; students need to know that they are not in trouble, but we need to figure out what is going wrong so that we can solve the right problem.
  • The ability for a student to realize they need help, and then to subsequently ask for help is not fully formed; or it can feel like an admission that they have done something wrong. In fact,  self-advocacy is so important; we need to make self-advocacy normal and praise it. In a remote setting it can be difficult to know when a student needs assistance; it is better for a student to let the instructor know when they need assistance as soon as possible.

These are four of the important ideas we took away from this article. On a final note, this article recommends that we “step back” and continue to keep the perspective that this pandemic situation is temporary but will not resolve itself as fast as most of us want it to.

What students gain from school is less about content and more about learning how to solve problems. “This year, more than most, might be one where students gain a deep understanding of how they respond when feeling overwhelmed and how to ask for help or rebound from setbacks- lessons that they will draw on long after the pandemic is gone.”

I, (Mr. Frandino) have three children of my own; and I know this article gave me some notions to think about. I think these ideas are valuable enough to share with all of you. Please know that our district is considering and planning all sorts of actions to return to “normal” schooling as soon and as safely as possible. While we go through this process please consider some of the ideas mentioned above.