September 17, 2018
Dear LoMA Family,
I want to thank everyone for making the start of this school year so smooth and successful. Our new teachers are teaching like old LoMA pros, the old LoMA pros are trying out some new ideas. The counseling team was able to get everyone programmed and settled in quickly. The senior team organized the internships and about half our seniors are taking advanced placement classes this year. It’s remarkable how well everything goes when we work cooperatively as a team. Our students are also working diligently. As I visit classrooms, I see that nearly everyone is trying their best - they are prepared, attentive and completing all of their class and homework. There have been hardly any disciplinary issues and I see a lot of effort. We are in what experienced teachers call the honeymoon period.
Of all of the seasons of school – Regents Weeks, the holidays, the home stretch, graduation – the honeymoon period is the most universally optimistic. Students come in with their new notebooks and pens full of hope that they will keep up on all of the work, that they will be in school and on time every day, and that they can keep their focus on academics. They complete their homework every day and study for tests. In return their teachers think they’re the greatest kids they ever had and treat them accordingly.
And then something happens. Some students start making new friends in their classes that they cannot resist talking with during class, they miss a homework assignment or they come to class late, and their teachers start treating them accordingly. Less resilient students may then give up trying for the marking period, the semester or the year. The honeymoon often ends for these students sometime in mid-September.
I want to try an experiment at LoMA. My hypothesis is that if we can keep the honeymoon going for six weeks until the end of the marking period, students will see high grades on their report cards, realize that they really can be great students and in this way build their resiliency sufficiently to keep trying their very best throughout the year even when things get difficult. For this to work, students need to keep their commitment to class work and homework for six solid weeks. Now, of course, some students will fail to complete a homework assignment, get confused in their classes, or be legitimately absent. When this happens, they need to go to tutoring. Too many students only use tutoring after they fail a class and are required to go. This year, all freshmen must report to tutoring Tuesday through Thursday. Other students need to see their teachers as soon as they are absent, miss a homework assignment or start getting confused in a class. We have thirty-two weeks to go, if students start feeling even a little lost or confused now, it is only going to get worse, and June is a long way off. That is why it is vital to get to tutoring immediately, before they lose their resiliency, give up and turn this season of hope into one of despair. If we can prove my hypothesis correct, we can instead extend this season of hope to a year of success.