Jerry Buelter: Advice for parents on how to make the 2nd semester a success |

Jerry Buelter: Advice for parents on how to make the 2nd semester a success

Jerry Buelter
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

As we begin the second semester, I was hoping I could share a few thoughts with you to make the second half of the school year a successful one for you and your students. 

I have been told that in real estate the three most important terms when buying a home are “location, location, location.” I would add that in education the three most important words when following our student’s progress are “communication, communication, communication.”

So many issues of educating our youth today could be solved if we as parents, along with our teachers, understood what the expectations and goals we have for each student. Your input in this regard is significant. 

I wish we would focus more on the aspect of learning rather than letter grades. By removing the stigma attached to a grade, research has shown the instances of copying and cheating were greatly reduced.

Research has also established that focusing on learning reduces the amount of stress on students. Stress unchecked could lead to more significant issues like anxiety and depression. It is my hope that in the years to come letter grades will be replaced by something more meaningful, something that will help us know more about what our student understands and is able to do. 

However, since we deal almost exclusively with grading and grading procedures, let me share some thoughts I have to make things better for all of us.

  1. If your student’s grade is important to you, begin tracking and following their progress now. Waiting until the end of the grading period only adds stress to you, your student and your teacher. Set up a specific day of the week the two of you can view the parent portal together. This is not meant to be a “gotcha,” but a time you and your student can share what is going on in class.
  2. Take the time to know and understand how your student is evaluated and what constitutes a letter grade in a teacher’s class. Understand that every teacher may have a slightly different way of evaluating his or her students. Normally, you would have received this information at the beginning of the school year or during parent-teacher conferences. If you were unable to attend either of those occasions, take the time to sit down with your student and ask them how they are evaluated. For your own sake, please do so early on before the first grades are posted. 
  3. Remember, teachers also have their own methods as to when and how often they post grades. Some will grade and post immediately; some may post on certain days of the week. If you are unaware of when a teacher posts grades, check out their website. While you are there, check out their philosophy on how they handle late or missing work. Or better yet, ask your student. They know.

*This probably does not need to be said but help your student understand that a 5-point, extra-credit assignment does not equal a 100-point assignment. 

In closing, if something important or relevant is going on in the life of your student that interferes with their learning, let someone at the school know. Too often, it is assumed that students come to school with the same “normal” background. Sometimes, they don’t. Let’s work together. Happy New Year.

Jerry Buelter taught and coached at Steamboat Springs High School for 20 years and served as an assistant principal and principal at Steamboat Springs Middle School for 17 years.

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