Why I Love My P4SLs
To learn more about our P4SL Model and what it means to teachers, read below. These are some of the experiences of English teacher, Eileen Vice:
The name “P4SL” is likely unfamiliar to anyone outside of the 21st Century family. That’s right, I said “family.” That’s what we are like here at 21CCCS! Originally, our family knew the phrase P4SL stood for “Plan for Student Learning.” (I should know, because I’ve been here FOREVER!) The P4SL was a program our students entered to help them understand their unique learning styles. At some point in time, the program’s name shifted. Today, it is not the name of the program. Instead, a P4SL is the term we use to refer to our student mentees. Weird, right?
So what are P4SLs anyway? As I mentioned, they are essentially mentees. Teachers at 21CCCS act as a Learning Coach for their P4SLs. Being a learning coach is what makes my job especially exciting. I get to work closely with a smaller number of students outside of my teaching load. I communicate with them about grades, sure. But, I also get the chance to talk about other important topics like friendships, family, jobs, fears and anxieties, goals, and dreams. I dispense wisdom and advice they always appreciate and follow (okay, not always, but they make a good show of it.)
Why is the P4SL relationship so important? Having a Learning Coach means every student has a special point of connection with 21CCCS. It means every parent has the phone number and email address of the person who knows their child better than anyone else at school. As a result, I get a lot of calls from my P4SLs and parents alike. Although many parents feel the need to apologize for “hassling me,” they are never a bother. I love to talk to them about what is going on with their child, especially since kids sometimes forget to tell their parents the important stuff. Everyone who knows me knows that I do not like surprises. Open communication prevents surprises. It is one of the most crucial components of the P4SL relationship.
I find the best way to connect to my P4SLs is to torture them mercilessly. To get them to submit their yearbook head shots, I repeatedly send photos of myself from my high school days (those were some good years!). I like to start the year off right by sending my P4SLs postcards in the summer. That way, they don’t forget about me or their school! I force them to get their picture taken with me on field trips. I make them schedules, even if they don’t want them, and accuse them of “trying to kill me” when they procrastinate. They come to love my incessant nagging, and expect it by the end of the school year. They know I do it because I care.
On the other hand, there are many things my P4SLs may not know about me.
They may not know that I don’t lose sleep over their failures because I am disappointed or frustrated. I lose sleep because I know they are so much more than a grade on a piece of paper. My P4SLs may not know that I will forever remember what they’ve told me they want to be when they grow up. Some students have been my P4SLs for over 5 years. I am certain they do not always believe that I know what I am talking about, or that I could possibly understand what life is like for teenagers today. But, I have five daughters. Believe me, I get it.
I think my P4SLs are amazing. I think they are smart and funny, and strong and capable. I think they are brave for trying online learning and succeeding, even more so if they failed at first. I think they are pioneers in the fields of education and life. Most of all, I am more proud than they will ever know, that they are mine.
And when they walk across the stage at their graduation, I will cry like a baby.