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View Diary: some observations from a classroom (124 comments)

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    an at-risk school, we have found that building relationships with the students is essential.  They will pick up on the fact that you care and are sincere, and that will help tremendously.  

    They also stumble, but with help can get back up and go forward again.  They don't always know that unless you tell them.  Sometimes you have to tell them many times--more than you would have to encourage a student from another type of school.  They have seen a lot of failure in their neighborhoods, families, and friends and may see a temporary setback as the beginning of their failure.  That is where mentors come in, reminding them that everyone makes mistakes and that they can learn from them and move on.  

    We are getting an auto-body repair program in our school, and I think it will motivate kids to come to school and give them an option to do something they like.  I have had students tell me they want to work on cars, etc., and don't want to take science, math, and other academic courses.  I think having the vocational course electives along with the core subjects will make the school experience more relevant to them.  We also have a cosmetology program that allows them to graduate fully licensed to work in a salon without having to spend thousands of dollars in a for-profit school.  These are jobs that can't be outsourced to another country and are needed in every community.  I want the stigma of vocational courses to disappear and have people see the value of them.  

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