Posted on 10 October 2012 by Mathew White
With the new school season well underway, students all over Osoyoos are getting back into the full swing of things. Textbooks are being cracked and homework is being assigned.
But what about those who just can’t seem to get their homework done? Those who are chronically failing to hand in those vital assignments? At Osoyoos Secondary School (OSS), those students are thrown into the PIT.
The Positive Intervention and Tutoring (PIT) program originally started at OSS about seven years ago as the Homework Club. OSS principal Glen Heinrichs said the initial intention of the program was to give “kids an opportunity to get support if they were falling behind in their homework.”
Heinrichs said his emphasis has always been that this is a positive program – they do not use it as a consequence or a threat, but rather an intervention.
“If you have difficulty getting your homework done for whatever reason, maybe you have a job or maybe your home life doesn’t support you getting time to do your homework, here’s a place and time where you can get your homework done,” he said.
Three or four years ago the program name was changed from the Homework Club to the PIT.
Heinrichs said they simply didn’t like the Homework Club name and changing it to the PIT keeps with their rattler mascot – because snakes live in pits.
It also emphasizes the fact that this is a positive program and not punishment, he said.
The way the program works is, if a student is repeatedly not completing his or her homework, they are referred to the PIT by a teacher or parent.
From there, the student is given a 15-page duotang. Each page then requires the student to get eight separate initials from his or her teachers upon completing his or her homework.
“The student has to get eight initials from his or her teachers,” said Heinrichs. “So one initial says that they completed all of their homework from yesterday, then there’s a space for them to write that day’s homework and they get an initial saying they have recorded today’s homework. If they get eight initials for the day, they come to the PIT, the teacher signs them in and they get credit for that day, and then they go home. There are no consequences if a student gets all of their homework done and is totally caught up.”
If a student manages to go 15 days in a row completing all of his or her homework and receives all the necessary initials, they graduate out of the PIT.
“If a student gets his or her homework done, gets all eight initials 15 days in a row, then we figure we’ve changed their behaviour,” said Heinrichs.
Last year, Heinrichs said the PIT added a new component, where students can not only be referred for not completing their homework regularly, but can also be sent to the PIT for a single assignment that may be overdue.
These students are brought to the PIT for lunch and after school until the assignment is done. Once that assignment is complete, the student is no longer in the PIT.
“What we’re trying to do is not just catch kids when they’re chronic, we want to catch kids earlier,” said Heinrichs. “So our hope is we’re going to catch kids way sooner for incomplete homework rather than waiting until it’s a chronic problem.”
Finally, the PIT is also open to any student who feels they just want somewhere to go after school to get their homework done. These are called “self-referrals” and Heinrichs said it’s a great outlet that a number of students take advantage of.
Heinrichs said over the years the program has made an incredible difference for a number of students. In fact, there are some students who have graduated from the PIT but still choose to attend everyday because the program is so helpful.
The PIT runs Monday-Thursday from 2:50 – 3:50 p.m. and is always supervised by either a teacher or administrator in order to give help wherever it may be needed.
For more information, OSS advises you to contact the student’s teacher.