Many students will have their vacations interrupted because
they have to attend summer school. These are the students who
failed one or more of their courses during the regular school
year. They can either moan and groan and make life miserable for
themselves and their parents or they can make good use of this
experience so that summer school will never be necessary again.
The first thing to do is to figure out what went wrong
during the regular school year. The following are just some
possibilities to explore. Did the student decide not to do any
work in the class because he took a dislike to the teacher? Or,
even if he liked the teacher, did he decide to demonstrate
rebelliousness by talking back and thus become a hero to his
peers? If so, the student needs to understand clearly the
relationship between his behavior in school and loss of his
Another possibility is that the student does not know how to
make use of the teacher’s expertise to help him to succeed.
Early in the semester the student should describe to the
teacher his learning style and what works best for him. This
step is especially important if the teacher’s style is very
different and perhaps incompatible with the student’s. For
example, if he cannot do long, written assignments but can orally
give a report, he should tell the teacher and try to reach a
compromise. The compromise for a student skilled in art might be
to employ that medium in his report. He should enlist the
teacher’s aid early so that he can use his strengths to succeed
and not always be penalized for his weaknesses.
If he cannot sit still for a long period of time, he should
tell the teacher this and work out some system whereby he can
move about either in the classroom or by going outside. If he is
taking medication which makes him seem tired and distracted , he
should inform the teacher so that she does not interpret his
yawns as disrespect.
The student who is easily distracted should ask to sit in
the front row preferably away from the door. The student who is
a poor test taker or does not do well on timed tests should tell
the teacher and ask for help. The student who has difficulty
finishing homework assignments because of poor study skills
should seek the teacher’s aid in learning better skills.
In general, the student should always make the assumption
that the teacher’s job is to help him to succeed. That is why
they are paid and what they are trained to do. Most teachers
really want their students to succeed. However, the teacher can
only help if the student tells her why he is having difficulty.
Instead of asking for help, many students just give up or resort
to misbehavior when they are failing.
Summer school is an excellent opportunity to practice
teacher-pleasing behavior mainly because the classes are usually
smaller. The student can practice how to talk to the teacher in
such a way that he takes advantage of all the expertise she has
to offer. It is also an opportunity for the student to begin to
pin-point the basic problem that makes him unsuccessful in
school. The problem could run the gamut from his not knowing how
to study to a physical problem such as an auditory processing
deficit which would make it difficult for him to understand
Since the student is already going to summer school, in
addition to the course he is repeating, he should take skill
courses like typing and computers. These skills ease the
mechanics of completing assignments, yielding better and more
readable papers, resulting in improved grades. All in all,
summer school does not have to be viewed as a disaster. It could
be the saving or making of a future scholar.