Sunday, November 17, 2013

Out of touch 2

I wrote about feeling out of touch earlier this school year.

I walked into a room this week to talk with a teacher I rarely see. It was the end of the day and another teacher was talking about one of her students. Apparently the student lives with his father and father's girlfriend. And father's ex-girlfriend lives there also because she cannot afford to move out. And the night before the ex-girlfriend was in a fight with the dad, throwing and breaking things.

The first teacher said "How can we expect kids to learn under these circumstance? They live in chaos, they don't eat right. They get no parental support." And the second teacher comment that her description sounded like second teacher's homelife growing up. She said she didn't do well in school or care at that point.

And I feel out of touch.

I think education is a key to open the door to escape your circumstances.

I grew up comfortably middle class. I started working at 16 and haven't stopped but I was raised with that as an expectation - as well as that I would get an education and keep learning.

I work hard to break down the math into bite-size pieces. I link it to what they are supposed to have learned before. I reteach what they are supposed to have already learned. I ask that they 1) not talk while I am teaching and 2) practice the math in class. I give up on assigning homework - very few do it and it is just another fight.
I am teaching Algebra 2 and Precalculus. How do you learn this without doing something?

Instead they gripe that I don't teach, I have to give them something to raise their grade (the grade they earned because they work the problems for the first time on a test).

Okay - they have a lousy homelife. Their parents belittle them, kick them out, set bad examples and give no structure. So, you pack my classes to the brim with people who have already failed the course, set it on block (so we do 2 hours a day for a semester instead of 1 hour a day for a year), give me no resources except what I can find for myself, do not give me common planning so we can share the load, expect me to teach to a test that by law I cannot see and yet counts for a quarter of their grade - and then wonder why this is a struggle every day.

Maybe I am not the one out of touch.

Note: I just looked in the gradebook for something else and noticed a student I hadn't seen all week is marked as transferred. I have lost 19 kids in 2 classes and 2 others have announced they are dropping out - they just haven't yet. I am not liking this year.


Lsquared said...

Hey--I actually have an idea that might (or might not) be useful! I occasionally teach a class for unmotivated students (not nearly in the same league of unmotivated as your students, but still..), and I have given up on giving homework to that group. One thing that helped a lot is I went to giving quizzes at the start of class every day. I know that sounds really ridiculous, but I would figure out what students should really know from each day's class, and tell them: there will be a problem like this, this and this on the quiz tomorrow. I post example practice problems with answers on the internet (that probably wouldn't work with your group)--I tell the students they are expected to work the problems and read the answers but a lot of them don't. Then there is a really short quiz at the beginning of class (first 25% of the class time--choose the number of problems accordingly) (I still give tests too). Every day. It eats up class time, and I'm always tempted to make it every other day or once a week, but then the students just kinda flop (well, mine do). I don't know if the magic of calling it a quiz would work for your students, but I thought I'd share, just in case.

Keep up the good fight--you've got one of the hardest, and most important jobs around!

Ricochet said...

TITD (ticket in the door)or TOTD ticket out the door) is the same concept. I do these about once a week. Maybe you are right and I need to do it daily.

About 2/3 have the Internet and some teachers use to post make up and recovery work. I just haven't done it.