As always, you’ve asked a relevant question, dear protege. What do we do when students make choices we don’t agree with? In this case, your student is making a choice that will have a negaqtive impact on her success in your course. Can you just let her do that? I think you already know the answer, since you’ve tried so hard to convince her otherwise. So what are your options when a student flat out refuses to do something that’s an important part of a course? First and foremost, if the student is under eighteen, I think you’re obligated to contact the home and let the parent know that his or her child is making a bad choice. Most, if not all, parents will appreciate your concern, and will probably even help try to get the student to change her mind. No one wants to see their son or daughter miss an opportunity that could make the difference between a good and bad mark.
Of course there’s always the chance that the parent either isn’t interested, or feels helpless in this kind of situation. There’s not much you can do to convince a student to do something they absolutely have no intention of doing–you can only encourage and support them if they decide to take a chance and make that dreaded presentation. Or, if audience interaction isn’t necessary, and anxiety is the issue, the student can always video him or herself in the comfort of home and show it to the class, or arrange to present to you privately.
I guess, at the end of it all, you’re frustrated by someone who’s so unwilling to do something that seems like no big deal to you. But not everyone has your can-do attitude 🙂 Some kids have had no rolemodeling for taking risks or having a positive approach to a difficult task. We can try to help them develop those skills, but we’re fighting against years of negativity and low self-esteem. And that really is frustrating.
And now it’s time for a little validation. As I learned in NTIP today, this is an important thing for me to do explicitly, so if I haven’t told you lately how wonderful you are, I’m telling you now. Be validated and valued, dear protege. You deserve it!