Movin on Up - Enter the Real World | Print |
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Written by Phillip L. Harris   

I always tried to make my class operate as close to the real world of work as much as possible. Many high school rules are fantasy when compared with what these kids will face when the enter the real world. So I tried to bring the real world consequences into the classroom. These two questions come from Becky Muldur.

Becky Muldur:  Question 1: We work in weekly projects or news stories. If you operate in a similar manner, what do you do with students who were absent, say, 2 times during that week? Obviously, they didn't contribute as much to the group's video, so I don't think it's fair to give them the full points, but I can't really punish them for being sick or absent. Do you give an alternative assignment
or let it go?

Phil:  Possible solution: Well, when they are absent from their job at McDonald's does McDonald's pay them? No. And if you ask them they'd agree with you that at their jobs, if they are not at work - regardless of the reason - they are not paid. If school is like work then the "salary" the school gives is a grade. Not present at work - no salary. Not present at school - no grade. If the kid at McDonald's wants to keep his weekly salary up and misses work then his only recourse is to work extra hours OUTSIDE OF HIS NORMAL WORK HOURS. Translation: make up the time after school, during lunch, before school, and produce the product required by his boss - you. Only then does he get the grade. Don't put in the time and the kid only loses 1/5th of the points available for the week for each day he's out and doesn't make it up. Very easy to administer. Kids will kick and scream with the teenage mantra of "it's not fair." But they already agreed that it's totally fair for McDonald's to it.

Becky Muldur: Question 2: I had a group who took advantage of being unsupervised and decided to go in the parking lot and mess with another student's car. They've been assigned Saturday School, I called home to talk to their mothers, but now my creative juices have dissolved and I can't think of a great idea for the group who is now confined to my room for a week minus any computer or camera
use. Any suggestions?

Phil:  Possible Solution: In the real world, would the boss be required to "make-up" an equal work task for these employees? Nope. In the real world the workers might be put on suspension or probation - or suspension without pay. You, too could put them on suspension in your classroom. Give them unsavory tasks like clean-up or book work but offer no credit for what they do while on suspension offer only the opportunity to further lower their grade by their behavior while on suspension. And if they want to raise their grade then they must come in on their own time after the suspension is up. With regards to the privilege of doing video work unsupervised: That privilege must be earned back, not merely returned at the end of the suspension.

I firmly believe that offering real world consequences is what we as educators should be providing the kids with. After all, our job is to prepare them for the world after high school. Again, let me warn you that initially the kids will kick and scream. But these consequences are very black and white. They are not gray. All your kids can easily understand the rules - put in the time and you'll get the pay. Now, that's for quantity of time put in. The grade you offer for the quality of the product they produce is another discussion. But that is not what these two scenarios you presented were about.