The following was written by Amber Jensen for To read the full article, click here

Sandra was a student in my advanced English class. Several weeks into the year, she hadn’t done any of the homework or projects. She just daydreamed at her desk. She made up excuses for why she hadn’t completed her assignments, and she demonstrated neither the attitude nor the work necessary for success in such a demanding course.

Her counselor and I decided to schedule a conference with Sandra, her father, and some of her other teachers to determine what direction she should take: should she drop her advanced courses and take standard ones instead? Most substantial was the unspoken question weighing on all of our minds: could we find a way to help Sandra succeed?

Believing that Sandra had been given many chances to succeed but instead had chosen to fail, I went into the meeting feeling very discouraged. Secretly I hoped she would decide to drop my class so that I wouldn’t have to worry about her anymore. I felt I had done all I could and that it was already too late.

In the meeting, Sandra’s body language revealed that she too doubted her ability to succeed. She stared at the table as I recounted her failure in English class. As her history teacher confirmed that Sandra was failing his class as well, her body slumped lower in her chair and I could see tears streaming down her face.

Mustering compassion, I explained to her and her father that if Sandra wanted to succeed in these challenging courses, she was going to have to change the behavior that had gotten her so deeply into this hole and that it was going to be very difficult.

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