Technology, Time, and Thinking

We don’t know the kid. It’s that simple. He showed up in our building on the first day of school and now he’s not turning in his homework. He has an office referral already and his body language speaks of apathy or indifference rather than leaning into the learning. What’s next?

Google Docs has changed the way we handle this student. What used to be a conversation around a conference room table has morphed into something rather dynamic and potentially life-altering for the students we attend to.

We call it Intervention Day. We are stepping into a student’s reality, intervening, with the intent to follow the counsel of Dr. Stephen Covey and his Habit #5: Seek first to understand, and then be understood.

It’s a three week process, meeting once a week during those three weeks.

Pre-Meeting work for 1st Meeting

Using Google Docs, I create a document that has boxes for all the information that can be gathered from the online data sources. Over the next two weeks, we will fill in a great deal of information about this student. To start out, I enter grades, enrollment information, and standard biographical information. Here is a link to the template that we use:

1st Meeting (10 minutes)

3 Minutes to Journal – each teacher has a lap top and types their current understanding of the student into the Google Doc.

3 minutes for a verbal update – each teacher gives a brief verbal update (That’s three minutes total for all teachers)

What do we want to know about this student by next week’s meeting? This information is folded into the student interview, parent interview, and cum folder reviews.

Assign the parent contact to a teacher. That teacher initiate a parent interview using a scripted set of questions. Here is that script:

“Your son/daughter is being looked at by The Freshman Academy in order to help him/her find success this year. I have a couple of questions that I’d like to ask you. Do you have about 10 to 15 minutes to talk to me?”

In an effort to get to know your son/daughter, what does he/she do well?

What are some areas of concern? 

Do you have any concerns about drug or alcohol use?

What is your son/daughter telling you about high school?

Have there been any major changes at home in the last year?

Are there any health concerns?

What occupies your son/daughter’s time outside of school?

Are you aware that he/she has missed ________ days of school?

Are you aware of his/her grades?

Is there any other information that might be helpful in helping your son/daughter find success at WHS?

Do you have any questions for me?

Thank you for your time. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.  

Pre-Meeting work for the second meeting

Invite counselors and off-team teachers to 2nd Meeting. They can attend or contribute to the Google Doc.

Teacher completes parent contact (See above script)

Conduct student interview

Review and bring cum folder

Enter current grades and info.

2nd Meeting (20 minutes)

3 minutes to journal

3 minute verbal update

Review current grades/attendance/etc.

Parent Interview summary

Student Interview Summary

Cum folder summary

Answer questions from 1st meeting

Create plan of action

Pre-Meeting work for the 3rd meeting

Implement actions from 2nd Meeting

Enter current grades and info.

Bridge Interview by teachers – Teachers bring the student up to our conference room and discuss concerns and successes. This meeting takes place between our second and third meeting.

3rd Meeting

5-minute, silent review of all information on the Google Doc

3 minute verbal review

What’s next?

Create a one- or two-sentence summary that can be reviewed regularly. This last sentence is a new idea to us. Part of the problem is we collect all this data and then we don’t come back to the essence of what we’ve learned about a student often enough to keep that a part of our classroom interactions with the student. Reviewing this written summary can help bring that all back.

It is a process still in development. The key difference is writing and silence. How often do we get to sit quietly and think about only one student, even if that’s only for three or five minutes at a time. We talk about reflection, but I must admit I don’t practice it very often. This could prove powerful in bringing about solutions for students who are in crisis in our building.