I am deeply concerned about the academically self-destructive nature that many of my students exhibit.
I'm seeing a large amount of "I don't get this. I'm going to put my head down." With the huge disparity in background knowledge in all of my classes, I'm finding it very difficult to make sure that the kids who are behind don't fall further behind while not letting the advanced kids get bored.
Before I gave a quiz in Astronomy today, I reminded them that, as juniors and seniors, if they don't understand what's going on, they need to take ownership and ask for help. Many are taking advantage of this and ask me for help, but the kids who are farthest behind refuse. When I offer help, they claim they just don't know it and can't.
Several students glanced at the quiz and immediately gave up.
I emphasize growth mindset in class and tell them that if they are in the class, it means that they CAN, but they may have to work a little harder than other students. That's fine since everyone has strengths and those other students may struggle in areas in which they excel.
I fear that they won't take advantage of the re-assessments and will simply look at the mediocre grades, believing they will never do better. I know that very few of them have experienced a teacher who allows, and encourages, re-assessment. This fact leads many of them to think that a grade is final. They don't even think about taking it again.
I will keep mentioning it and encouraging them to re-assess.
I have some pretty great kids and I can clearly see how the education system has made them feel about themselves and their abilities.
In one class, I had to ask a student to leave the class. I had asked him several times to be quiet an let me give out instructions. When I asked him to wait in the hall, he threw a small fit and stormed out. After some mild profanity, he wandered off and I was forced to write up a referral.
I hate throwing kids out of class and try to minimize it as much as possible.
I saw him later in the hall and we had a conversation. It was very civil and it was clear that we bore no anger for each other. We talked about what he was doing and why I did what I did. We discussed how we can do it differently next time.
I also intervened with the principal on his behalf. He is a natural leader and I'm hoping that he will become a good one.
I'm doing my best to be encouraging and supportive to everyone, regardless of ability or behavior.
It's Friday. I'm going to teach myself astronomy, grade papers and pick apples.