When Ben’s parents contacted Open Door Education in October of Ben’s eighth grade year, they were confused and concerned. Ben, a student at Concord Middle School, had been a stellar student up to this point, but things were starting to fall apart. Ben’s midterm report was the worst it had ever been, and he was at risk of failing two classes. Ben and his parents were in constant conflict about his schoolwork, and these arguments were starting to take their toll on Ben’s relationship with his parents, who were concerned that Ben wouldn’t be ready for the rigors of high school. Something needed to be done.
Open Door’s Intake Director, Pam Fleming, met with Ben and his parents for an initial consultation to better understand the situation and help Ben and his parents come up with a plan for turning things around. In this meeting, Pam learned about Ben and his relationship with school, from his frustration with his Math teacher, his ongoing struggle to keep up with a system for remembering his homework, to his excitement for the upcoming basketball season, along with his penchant for doodling in the margins of his notebooks. By taking the time to hear Ben’s perspective, Pam was able to identify a tutor who would be able to connect with Ben on a personal level, including a shared love for the Celtics, and who also had a wealth of experience helping students this age get back on track.
Ben and his tutor began meeting the following week, and their first few sessions focused on addressing the most acute and time-sensitive concerns, including assignments that Ben could still make up and his most current class content. Ben and his tutor also established habits that created a consistent rhythm to their sessions while also providing accountability. After determining which system for tracking homework assignments would work best for Ben, he and his tutor would start each session by looking at the calendar together and establishing priorities for their session, then they’d end their sessions by setting modest, achievable goals for the week ahead. After each session, Ben’s parents received a summary of the session that kept them up-to-date on Ben’s progress and helped them to better support his systems at home.
Over time, Ben got better at predicting how much time an assignment would take, he learned how to study for tests more efficiently, and he started to plan ahead for projects and big tests so that he wasn’t trying to cram at the last minute. Of course, there were times when Ben slipped and forgot an assignment or turned in sloppy work. But this time Ben had a safety net. His regular sessions with his tutor provided consistency and accountability, so that when Ben did encounter an obstacle, he knew that his tutor would be there to help him see it through.
After a rough start to the year, Ben turned things around. His grades improved, he found that he had more free time because he was learning to plan and complete his work more efficiently, and his relationship with his parents improved as they stopped arguing about his schoolwork.
Ben and his tutor continued to meet during the fall of his freshman year to ensure that he made a smooth transition to high school. They revisited some of Ben’s systems and updated his daily checklists to account for the increased workload of his high school curriculum. After a few months, Ben didn’t need organizational coaching – he had developed the necessary skills and learned how to be an effective and independent student.
Ben worked with Open Door two more times during his high school career – once when he needed help preparing for his Algebra 2 midterm, and again when he was studying for his SAT. In each case, the organizational and executive functioning skills that Ben developed earlier in his academic career provided a foundation that, when coupled with his hard work and positive attitude, empowered Ben to achieve results that he is proud of.