Thursday, September 24, 2015

Day 16: Screaming Behind The Smile

Lab day in Astronomy.  Students were assigned a partner, given 2 lenses, a meter stick and an instruction sheet.

And then I taught them how to read.

Seriously, if I had a dollar for every time I answered a question with "what do the directions say" I would be able to retire.  The instructions were VERY clear, but 80% of the students in each class had tremendous trouble with them.  Mostly because no attempts were made.

I don't blame them.  I've seen why they operate this way.

In many classes, teachers will simply answer their questions instead of having them read the directions again.  The whole "ask 3 before me" thing only works if other people were paying attention.

Today was the closest I've come so far this year to losing my cool.  The Warm-Up problem came directly out of the work we did yesterday and almost no one was able to answer it.  Or, perhaps more accurately, no one who was able to answer it was willing to speak up.

So we went over it together.

I reminded them again that while this was not going to be a hard class, it wasn't one they would be able to coast through.  I am hearing more and more cries of "this isn't what I thought this class was going to be."

When asked for clarification, I get responses of "I thought we were going to be talking about space."

I suppose I shouldn't be too upset or surprised.  This is much the same attitude of students who take Family and Consumer Science and get upset when they aren't making cookies on a daily basis.
"To hell with your Matryoshka cups! I want to make a cake!"

Or wondering why they aren't using power tools in Shop on the first day.

I also heard lots of "I don't care if the telescope works. I want a good grade."

It hurt my heart.

I'm struggling against my own instincts.  With 8th graders, you know you need to give them a ton of support because they haven't developed the habits of self-preservation yet.  I know that nothing should change for 12th graders.

I should be willing to support them and help them develop the habits that will make them successful once they leave school.

But I'm having tremendous trouble doing that.  Absenteeism is a huge problem.  I have not had a single day so far where every student has been present.  They have guided note packets that help them to see what they've missed and, at the end of the chapter, I'll be posting the completed notes on my teacher site.

I'll help however I can, but I have 150 students and I can't stop class a class of 30 to bring a truant student up to date.  I make myself available before school and during all of the lunch periods.  A few kids have come and I have endless patience for them.

I will never turn a kid away when they come for help.

But I can't make them come.  If they make the decision to not do the work, I can encourage, I can support, I can praise.

But I can't learn it for them.

I also can't let myself own their decisions.

With all of this, I'm still really happy to be doing what I'm doing.


  1. Thanks for sharing. I'm trying to teach my 8th graders to read "daily directions" and self-start and self-sustain. It's a loooooong process.

    1. Yes. Yes it is. It took months to get mine into the daily routine and even then, some seemed confused as to what was expected of them.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...