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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

TEACHER TUESDAY: Is ICU necessary?

It's the fifth week of the first six weeks, the end of the grading period for most public schools.  Teachers are burning the midnight oil to get all the grading finished before grades are due to the office next week.  Many students are scrambling to get all their work turned in before they get a failing grade.  Some teachers will allow them to turn work in late--others will let the zeros stand. However, teachers are feeling more pressure to do whatever it takes to keep kids from failing, even if they wait until the end of the grading period to get the work done.

There is a new movement in the world of education called "The Power of ICU," where ICU stands for the same thing it does in the medical world:  Intensive Care Unit.  It is a strategy many schools are incorporating to ensure that every child turns in every assignment by providing intensive study times during lunches or special class periods, contacting parents, grouping teachers, etc. It is a wonderful concept, which some schools swear has raised their academic achievement levels.

As a teacher introduced to the program during one semester at a junior high, I found that it also required a lot of extra work.  Students who didn't turn their work in on time were given multiple opportunities to get it done.  They were assigned to a study hall during lunch where their missing assignments would be waiting for them.  For teachers this meant running extra copies for those students and getting them filed in the study room before the student got there.

Procrastinators continued to procrastinate and lose work, or even hide it in bookshelves while teachers continued to run more copies and make special deliveries during their own "duty-free" lunch. My question was and still is:  when does the student become accountable for his own work?  When does the student pay a penalty for not meeting a deadline?  And why have a deadline if it isn't really a deadline?

Granted, adults get to be late with their deadlines, but there are penalties.  Have you ever been late with your tax return?  How about rent or a mortgage payment?  What is the penalty for not paying the electric bill?  No power, after a couple of warnings.

But we cannot have failure in the world of education.  Student failures reflect badly on our state test scores, student attendance which funds schools, public opinion of local schools, and teacher quality.  We also have to compete with students in other countries.  We cannot have failure.  So we do whatever we can to make sure failure doesn't happen.  Even if it means chasing Billy all over campus to get work from him.  And some schools are even beginning to do home visits.  Where does it end?
xoxo