Lockett Learning Systems

Lockett Learning Systems

Thursday, September 20, 2012

How Do You Recognize a Student At Risk?

Every student is high-risk at some time in life.  The question is not “Whether,” it’s “When?”  The more important question is “What will we do about it when...?”

One of my SCORE students had been doing well.  We worked from off-campus with him, and he was a senior getting ready to graduate.  We held an advisory session with him in December, before Christmas vacation.  He was on track.  Imagine our shock and chagrin, then, when we got a call from his mother in May saying he wouldn’t graduate.

Of course we checked it out immediately!  He was failing his senior history requirement.  His teacher said he returned from Christmas vacation a different person.  She noticed the change in him and suspected he was on drugs.  She didn’t know what to do about it so she allowed him to sit in class from January until May without doing anything!

Two great tragedies occurred in this situation:  1.  A student failed unnecessarily; and 2.  A good teacher didn’t know what to do so did nothing! 

If a student is on drugs, that student does not get better if we pretend we don’t see.  When a student is in crisis (i.e. high-risk), that student needs help to get through.  Ignoring a behavior does not make it go away. 

How can we tell if a student is in crisis?  Here are the obvious signs...please don’t overlook them:
  1. Any major change in behavior.
  2. Glazed eyes.
  3. Inability to sit still.
  4. Excessive sleepiness or yawning.
  5. Attitude that says, “I don’t care.”
  6. Poor hygiene.
  7. Poor eye contact.
  8. Missed assignments.
  9. Excessive absences or tardiness.

Yikes!  I’m realizing I could go on all day...but this is just a blog.  You get the idea.  If what you see touches an emotion (empathy, anger, fear), listen to it.  Check it out.  You will save a student’s future...you may save a life. 

Next time, we’ll look at what to do when you see these signs of crisis.

Now, back to my student.  What happened over Christmas vacation?  Grandma died, and Grandma was just about the only person in the whole world who loved him unconditionally. 

He was grieving in January.  By May, that grief had turned into dysfunction.  Dealing with a child in grief is what we call prevention.  It has always been lest costly...in time, in money, and in lives...than cure.