Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Perpetual New Kid

How many schools did you go to? Can you count them on your hand? What about just high schools? Do you have to think about what year it was to try to figure out which school you were at? Do you have to narrow it down to the month in that year to figure out which school you were at?

There are students who are just going to have to move because of the nature of their parents' jobs. Children of the military sometimes move around depending on where their military parent is stationed. This is a given with military life. However, there are other students that transfer more than military kids. Why? Who knows. I certainly don't. When I ask the kids why they've transfered, they'll tell me because they don't like the school, they got in trouble, the dress code sucked and on and on.

There are good, legitimate reasons to remove your child from a school. However, when your kid is on their fourth high school in February of their freshman year, something is not working right. Especially if all of those schools are in the same district. I've had it happen. We tend to notice an influx of students around when grades are due. See, sometimes someone, I don't know if it's the student or the parent, gets the notion that transferring in the fifth week of a six week grading period keeps their child at an A. It doesn't. We get their 17% from Random High School and it sticks with them.

This causes a lot of problems. First, who the hell can learn anything when they're only spending about a month at each school. You've just figured out where the cafeteria is by the time you switch to a new school with a new routine. Second, I'm new to you. I'm not the exact same as every other English teacher. My kids can tell you that I am an acquired taste. So not only do you not know me, or probably like me, I barely have time to find your skills or get your learning style before you're off to a new school. Third, even if these kids are motivated, can you imagine coming in about nine chapters into a twenty seven chapter novel? How psyched are you going to be to catch up? You can't pass the tests without reading the entire book and now you have extra work.

I don't know where this culture of transfer came from. I've had students transfer because they don't like a school's cellphone policy (as in, don't use them during school). It makes me wonder what they are telling their parents to get them to move. If I'd told me mother I wanted to change schools so I could use my phone in school, I'm pretty sure she would have laughed herself silly and then taken my phone so I couldn't have it during school hours.

This post is brought to you by the newest of my new students, who came in with a can't do attitude and barely a twenty percent. As you can imagine, while we read The Hunger Games today, he did his best to blend into the background and try to catch a nap. It makes me sad for him because he's fifteen years old and he's already given up. I can't say that I blame him much. I have no idea why he transfered, but whatever the reason, I still feel bad for him.

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