A. Understand the PRIVILEGE you have.
Your education is protected, privileged, and free. Although it may seem like an overdone saying, you truly are lucky to live in a first-world country in which the primary mode of excellent education is freely given to you. Additionally, because of Edcode, you and your education are protected to assure your best accommodations, distraction-free learning, academic and social success within school, and the ability to be productive in the work-force post-school. Finally, Summerville, in a rural community, is one of the best public schools you can be at (and I've been at several to know!). Less than 1/3 of the world's region is considered "first-world" with such educational privileges, and many will not afford the opportunities you are given to make the most of your education--both as students and responsible, ethical citizens--and be successful. Take advantage to reap these benefits!!!!!
Blue-1st world (with the most academic freedom and privileges), Red-2nd world, Green-3rd world (with education, many times, seen as a luxury)
B. Complete academic work to the best of your ability.
In truth, only you know what you are truly capable of. Academics may come easy, and you may glide by with little work--which does not benefit you greatly. Academics may be a challenge, and it may take sweat and a few tears to muster a C--yet this is your best, and you should rejoice! Always aim to fully understand material and truly wrestle and struggle with it. A common sports phrase is that "pain is weakness leaving the body." The same is true for academics. Without some type of struggle, or exercise of your cranial matter, you will not become sharper, more adaptable thinkers, able to be as successful as possible in this world. Find out what your mind is capable of by constantly challenging yourself to think just a little harder or do just a little more. And avoid simply copying the answers and work from others in the name of "collaborative work."
Additionally, if you did not complete an assignment on time, remember your options: If you are on a 504 or IEP plan, you should pre-approve the opportunity to get extended time (well before the date the assignment is due) and, when turning it in hard copy, write "Soto" or "Hightower" on your paper to remind me. If you were absent, print your work hard copy and write "absent" with the specified date of your absence so that I can verify. And, if you did not complete the work on time, without being absent, and without meeting criteria for a pre-approval of an extension, write "late" and email me for one additional assignment to complete in order to receive half credit on the original assignment. Both of these assignments should be turned in together, hard copy. For these three circumstances, your zeroes will be changed accordingly (full credit for pre-approved time or absences, and half credit for late work), but understand that this is not instant, and may done closer to the end of the grading period.
I would also recommend staying on top of all work, even if you have the ability to receive a few extensions, and even if you have absences, as the more you fall into the habit of turning work in late, the more you will get behind, and the more overwhelmed, frustrated, stressed out, and discouraged you will be. I don't want this for you! Additionally, this will prevent unwanted temporary 0s in a time in which grades are automatically viewed online by you and your family.
C. Avoid the temptation of Plagiarism
This goes for all classes, whether it be a chemistry equation, a series of math problems, or an academic writing piece. Choosing to borrow work from another and claim it as your own is technically thievery (and the same act protected by legal copyright laws in the real world as you get older), and comes with its own set of consequences (a 0 on the assignment, no chance to re-do if it is the final draft for me, a Saturday School, and parents and all teachers notified). StudySync and turnitin.com both have plagiarism checks, and plagiarism should be avoided at all costs. Even a series of sentences copied word for word will result in the same consequences, and consequences become even more severe for the same infractions (including 0s for the entire semester course, and academic probation to possibly be removed from school) in higher educational years. Avoid lending your paper to others to "help" them have a model. I provide models for you. If your paper seems to be copied, even if you did not intend it to be, you are liable to the same consequences. Instead, come side-by-side and help your peer personally, by editing or reviewing their paper.
D. Balance asking for help and becoming self-sufficient
Remember that you yourself are sometimes your own best, creative tool and help. With one teacher to 20-35 students each class, and a 1 to 200+ ratio overall, it is not always possible to receive individualized tutoring sessions, but you can allow more opportunities for such meaningful one-on-one teacher help if you first determine what you can do for yourself. For instance, if you are absent for a few days, or even just have missed a few minutes of class, consult my website, examine and read through material we are working on, and (while the teacher is not talking) quietly ask a fellow peer who was present for clarity before immediately asking or e-mailing the teacher.
Some examples of things you should do for yourself include:
- Discovering how to sign in to and use technology and websites. You are capable of doing this on your own when it comes to Instagram, Snapchat, online gaming, and the like. You are also capable of following the [often] simpler process of doing this (including recovering passwords, or re-creating accounts if needed) for academic platforms. Avoid using technology as an excuse. Problem-solve with academic technology just as much as you might social media, gaming, or other online/app based programs for your personal use.
- Discovering work when you were absent or missed moments of class. Getting caught up is your responsibility. Before seeking out the teacher, make sure that you have examined and read through the entire class agenda and resources on my website, and have consulted a few responsible peers for guidance. Then, remember to print the work out hard copy, write "absent on [specified date]" on it (to avoid late points), and turn it in. Try to minimize absences and time away from class if possible.
- Completing assignments whose processes are spelled out in written directions. Avoid asking questions that can be directly answered by you simply reading directions. :) You will save your own pride by doing this.
- Checking examples of work and models of writing first before asking "how do I do this?" This will often times help provide the guidance you need to get started, even if you have to struggle through the process a little.
- Speaking of struggling, struggle a little first. By attempting an assignment, instead of merely asking for it to be completely re-taught, you allow yourself the ability to gather very specific, focused questions about where you need help. This will help the help time go much quicker, allow you better clarity on the assignment, and allow others the opportunity to receive help as well.
- When asking questions, make sure to be very focused and specific. Please don't email me asking "How do I do the assignment?" Since I teach multiple subjects and lessons throughout the day, remind me what period you are in, remind me of the assignment, and then ask a very specific, focused question about the assignment. By doing this, this frees my evening time up to maintain a healthy life balance, a happier, more rested demeanor for you, and the best ability and time to create meaningful, un-rushed lessons.
- Be patient. I often have multiple emails to answer in the evenings, and students to teach. I will do my best to respond efficiently to each one of you with the best fairness I see possible. However, it is not fair to respond first to the one whose hand waves like a dog wagging his tail and makes verbal begging grunts, if others have been waiting even longer. Make sure to follow steps 1-6 first, in order to be considerate to others.
E. The Reward
As you complete your own work to the best of your ability, you will see that you gain confidence and can continue to improve your skills. It indeed is much like developing your favorite sport, hobby, or even gaming skill. The harder you work in the midst of small struggles, the more you overcome such struggles and develop your own skills to problem-solve, the more confident, successful, and happy you will become!