Making the Grade in September 8th Issue

by Marilyn Roca Enriquez in


IT'S USEFUL AT TIMES TO HAVE A FRESH PERSPECTIVE TO “MAKE THE GRADE.”  WITH THIS IN MIND WE HERE AT OUTLOOK-12 HAVE CREATED A SPECIAL COLUMN WHERE YOU, OUR READERS, CAN WRITE TO US WITH YOUR PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL QUESTIONS AND GET PERSPECTIVE AND INSIGHTS FROM OUR RESIDENT AWARD-WINNING EDUCATION VETERAN AND CONTRIBUTING COLUMNIST GARY COOPER.  AN EDUCATOR FOR MORE THAN 45 YEARS, GARY HAS TAUGHT STUDENTS FROM NURSERY SCHOOL TO COLLEGE AND IS ALSO A GUIDANCE COUNSELOR. 

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Q: I’m a high school guidance counselor. I’ve been working with a senior who is set on becoming an actor. The problem is I’ve seen him in school plays, and he’s not good at it. I’ve tried to talk to him about the challenges of a career in acting, but he believes that all he needs to do is put a video up on YouTube, and he’ll get discovered. How do I get through to him without completely crushing him? 

A:  Students who seek a future in the performing arts can obtain training and experience at the college level in a number of ways. Remember, the simple fact that a freshman student entering school as an acting major can change majors during college. I would advise students interested in acting to join the school’s drama club and be part of the performances that the students produce. If a student has very limited talent, that may become self-apparent as they become exposed to other hopeful thespians. A student may enter college with little skill and can still graduate much further down the road, having gained the requisite skill and being able to perform well on stage or in front of a camera. The job of a guidance counselor is just that: to guide and counsel students. To give teenagers accurate and sincere advice is good but never squelch a youth’s dream. No matter how unrealistic a student’s goal may be the task of a counselor is to help that individual achieve his or her goal.

Q: I’m a teacher at a school that has grades from pre-k through eighth. I was teaching third grade. But because of staffing changes, I’m now teaching seventh grade. The kids in third grade still respected authority. The kids in the seventh grade are starting to rebel against authority. I tried to adjust my teaching style, but most of my students do things like roll their eyes and try to sneak texting each other during class. How can I regain control?

A: Seventh grade is a transitional grade. It is considered one of the more difficult grades to teach. You neglected to indicate the subject that you teach, however, lecture less and have students work on assignments more. In addition, have students work in groups to begin the assignments. Almost all assignments should be graded, elevating the importance of your students’ effort. In this way, the learning process and subject matter become the focal point of the class, making classroom management much easier.

Q: I’m an elementary school nurse. Every day this week a little first grade girl has been sent down to my office by her teacher. I believe she is faking being sick because she has no symptoms and the time that she shows up everyday is the same time that her teacher is teaching social studies. I’ve spoken to her teacher, but his attitude is if she’s sick, and he does nothing, he’s in big trouble, but if she’s faking and flunks, that’s not his problem. I don’t agree with him, but I’m more worried about the little girl. How can I help her?

A: Although your evaluation of this child’s “malady” is probably correct, I agree with the teacher. The school nurse should examine this student.  However unlikely, each student’s potential medical issue needs to be addressed. If your school has a guidance counselor, have this girl speak to that person. In addition, speak to this student’s parent or parents to investigate the girl’s medical history and to possibly gain an ally in the parent.  With regards to the social studies teacher’s experience with this child, have him ask her how she is feeling as soon as she enters his classroom. Hopefully this will diffuse the girl’s need to seek the nurse’s office refuge.

If you would like to write to Gary for advice, please email admin@k12hispanicoutlook.com