Year: 1996-1997
Month: September
Leader: Group I

Situation/Case Study:
STUDENT ACADEMIC PROBLEM

Description:
This episode is really a series of brief conversations and encounters between the student and the teacher in which the teacher attempts to ascertain what the student understands and why she isn't turning in her work. Initially, after becoming concerned by her performance in class, the teacher stopped the student in the hall and, among other questions, asked her a simple addition problem, which she answered incorrectly. Later, the teacher suggested that the student take her algebra test to her ESL teacher and do it there so that she could have help with the language if needed. She took the test from the teacher, appearing to understand his directions, but did not bring the test to the ESL teacher or hand it back in. In class, the student appears pleasant and comes ready to work. She does not have close friends in class, but other students are willing to work with her when partners are required. On occasion, when called upon, she has been able to answer questions in class, but she makes no effort to seek out help from the teacher. Rather, she appears to avoid interaction. The teacher's main question revolves around whether this student's problem performance is related to her lack of skill with English or her lack of skill with math. The ESL teacher, when asked, said she thought her English skills should be good enough to understand most of the instruction in the math class. The teacher is not sure this is the case.

Hypotheses:
Several were put forward. The teacher identified himself as feeling uncertain about how to help this student and frustrated because of it. He also felt concerned for the student and pressure for himself because she doesn't appear to be learning and she must pass this course (or another one like it) to graduate.

Theories behind practice:
Limited discussion revealed a student-centered philosophy, which included the expectation of meeting the needs of all individuals in the class.

Impact on others:


Solutions:
Check with other teachers who have her in class currently to determine how she is doing in those classes, especially in regard to English. Talk with the house dean to find out her history at the school. Talk more with the ESL teacher to find out how much English the student understands and how that applies to the math setting. When talking with the student, have her say back to the teacher the directions she has been given or talk through her solution to the problem she has been working. Shift her to an applied math class where other ESL students might be present and where the ESL teacher might be providing support. Find a Spanish-speaking student who is taking, or has taken, the math class and ask him/her to work with this student. Ask the Spanish teacher to talk with the student in Spanish to see if she can determine what the problem is. Recognize that sometimes LEP students listen selectively and use language difficulties as a reason for not doing what they are supposed to, even though they do understand.

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