First, a confession. I was a lousy student. I was lazy and, for the most part, an unmotivated student. English was easy for me but math and science were always problematic. Somehow, in spite of myself, I made it through high school and four years of college. I’m still surprised that I managed to graduate! And now, as a mentor, I’ve been blessed with an honor student who only needs my help with English verbs (English is her second language), my strong suit!
But I know many of you have students like me. They want to go to college or they wouldn’t be in this program. However, they are either having problems in one or more subjects, not spending enough time on their studies, bored in a class and not paying attention, or all three! What can you – a mentor who only sees your student for an hour a week - do to help?
First, you can turn to the program – Take Stock in Children – for assistance. If a student earns a grade below C, he or she will receive an email from a College Success Coach. The Coach will evaluate the student with a performance review each quarter and take steps to help the student get back on track. Mentors do have the opportunity to meet with the Coach and their student. In this meeting, you can discuss strategy for improvement for specific situations and any other area the student and mentor need help to be successful. These may include tutoring, meeting with teachers, earning extra credit, and home study habits.
You could also get creative. Is there something small your student really loves that you could hold out as a carrot? A box of chocolates, a movie ticket, a book? In my case, when my friends challenged me to make the honor roll, I worked hard for a marking period and made it. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep it up. Maybe another carrot would have worked?
What about the other side of this issue? How do you celebrate if your student consistently makes good grades? Some of the carrots I listed above might be nice. A big hug is always welcome. What about a glowing personal letter or a lovely card from you? A bouquet of flowers? I think a personal touch might be something the student would treasure forever.
Mentors, what ideas do you have for helping students make and keep good grades.
-Jean Steiger, TSICM Blog Editor