At the beginning of May, I told a girl who was a great employee at a nearby fast food restaurant that I was going to fire her if she didn’t show up for her “shift” at school.
“I’ve got no one to cover your shift,” I told her. “If you are even one minute late to school, you are fired for the day. I’m going to send you home, and you can try again tomorrow.”
She wasn’t late to school for almost three weeks. She did her work. She showed up for Saturday School. She became a sophomore.
That morning in the school office, I communicated to this very intelligent freshman in a calm voice that she was the only one that could do what needed to be done. If she didn’t take care of it, she could stay home. She listened.
“Why weren’t you the first person to talk to me about this?” she said. And she went to class.
I’m still trying to figure out what this means. At the very least, this student was asking for someone to challenge her, hold her accountable. She wanted an education but she lost her way. Other things distracted her or devalued her.
She needed someone to tell her that she was important to her education.
She needed someone to get serious.
She needed a measurable expectation: Don’t be late.
I made her a promise that was shocking and even counterintuitive. I was going to do it, and I think she understood that.
It worked this time.