"Freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast." Viktor Frankl
They make stupid choices - and I don't know how to help them make better ones.
Another teacher, working on his EdS, was discussing how the most important factor in determining a student's success is their parents. *If anyone knows that study, please let me know.* OK, I can't change their parents. I can't change their choices. I have to learn to let go.
My goals for next year: 1. Be more positive. 2. Be more clear in my expectations. 3. Raise the bar - whether they join me or not. 4. Help them learn to take better notes. 5. Take less STUFF to my room.
Finals are rapidly approaching. It amuses me that this year's students are as appalled as previous classes that they have a final on the last day of school. I have prepared them all year - but they are still expecting a party on the last days.
The boy who will not take notes is expelled until the final. He didn't take his work. I can read the outcome, even if he can not.
I do not understand how to teach them that they cannot park their grade at the minimum passing grade - and expect to pass when they have a final coming that they will not prepare for.
Several students this year decided to destroy things that belong to me. It wasn't a game or even done in anger. It was done just because.
I don't get it.
I keep telling myself that fewer than 5% of the kids I have ever taught ever do anything like this, but it is disturbing.
I know the studies that show if you want to rebuild a slum, you fix the windows and gradually the rest will take care of itself. Is this the inverse? That if you treat everything like crap we gradually reach a lower denominator?
There are stories about crab buckets (someone trying to better himself encounters others who want to drag him down) and maybe these kids honestly don't know any better. But they also accept no responsibility for anything - including their own destructive behavior.
I have a student who is failing several classes. He is quick to tell you he doesn't know anything because teachers from middle school wouldn't teach or help him. I cannot get him to copy notes from the board - neither can the teachers in the other classes he's failing. His mother will tell you it is because he doesn't understand it.
What do you have to understand to copy notes?
I build in a grade boost because I am a hard grader and cannot figure out how to change that. So, if they do the warmup every day (and I make sure the correct answer is on the board) and turn it in at the end every fortnight (love that word) you get a quiz grade that should be an easy 100. In the course of a semester, they're worth about 15 points on your final grade.
This student will not do that.
But, his father is buying him a car for his 16th birthday and his mother is encouraging him to get written up again so he'll get expelled. And when you meet the parents, they will tell you they have no idea how to get him to work. I am no genius, but I know how to reward him for not working.
I keep looking for things I can do to give them an incentive to think. As someone who wanted to know everything, I am baffled by those willing to stare at the wall rather than do something. I will buy that they have had poor instruction in the past, but I don't think I am giving poor instruction.
I cannot give them candy as a reward. I cannot afford much above that. It has been suggested that I give them library passes for doing the work. This strikes me as "do my work and I will give you a pass to do something completely unrelated to what I am teaching as a reward."
I figure fewer than 10% see getting a good grade as a reward. Most are content with a 70. It's passing, isn't it? No wiggle-room, but it's passing.
And if they are willing to do the absolute minimum, how do you get rigor?
I have had a student come to me for help with her math class. We've been doing permutations and combinations. My question for each of her problems has been "Does order matter?" If it does - it's a permutation. If it doesn't, it's a combination.
I know she wants me to do her work. (Thanks, but no thanks). I finally told her that she was guessing at easy answers but had to do some work or she was wasting both of our time. I handed her three books and said "how many ways can you line these up" and she was able to see that the order mattered.
But I know that I haven't changed the fundamental problem. She is unwilling to think - she wants to go play instead.
And that's what her teacher said when I mentioned she was coming for tutoring.
We (teachers) keep getting told we have to add rigor to our instruction. These kids are capable of thinking and they are capable of learning but they choose not to.
I am reviewing for the state testing. I have one kid reading The G Spot instead (yeah, like that's on the exam) and another who said "don't you want me to increase my vocabulary [by reading]?" She didn't find it even amusing when I handed her a math book open to the glossery.
We are having walk throughs next week. I am trying to figure out how to 1) do my review and 2) get them engaged. I am thinking about splitting them into groups and having them compete against each other working the problems. But I need to practice this before the walk throughs.