Today was presentation day in Astronomy.
Last week, we spent 2 days in the computer lab where they worked pretty diligently.
And then today came and less than half of the students were willing or able to present.
"We didn't have time to finish."
"My partner was supposed to do it."
"Send it to you, that's too much."
In many cases, the students didn't know how to share the files with me and once that was done, the did their presentations.
Many more, however, turned in nothing and made no effort to do so.
What I found increasingly distressing over the day was the level of confusion from students who didn't understand why it was a problem.
One student felt that since his partner wasn't in school, then the due date didn't matter. He couldn't understand why I was putting a zero in the grade book until he could do his presentation. I told him that he could text or call his partner and have the presentation sent to me over email and that would be fine.
When that didn't pan out, I ended up having to remove him from class for throwing a tantrum. Several others had to be removed, either because they wouldn't stop yelling profanity at me, or they wouldn't be quiet long enough for me to give directions.
I called parents today. One parent that I spoke with was practically in tears because she was at a total loss for how to help her son. My heart broke for her and I told her that if she had any suggestions for how I could help, I would be more than willing to do so.
While I'm annoyed by student behavior in not taking my class seriously, I'm much MORE upset by the unwillingness to let others enjoy the class. Is this happening because they are lost? If I slow down, I'll lose the kids who are working hard and are ready to move on. More so, I think the behavior is because many of the students in my classes are the ones who have been shuttled along by the system. They have fallen further behind each year and, as a result, have learned how to survive in the school by behaving in this fashion.
I don't know how to help them and with 150 kids in my Astronomy classes, I'm not sure that I can. I will, however, continue to try.
And I'm falling into the old trap again. The majority of my students are wonderful. Several of the presentations were incredibly good! I made a point of thanking my on-task students for their diligence and let them know that, while things may go wrong sometimes, I truly appreciate having them in class and appreciate their attention when I ask for it.
What I also find heartbreaking is the reaction of these students to those in the previous group. I see lots of looks of sad resignation. My room is not set up in a way that I can move the interested kids to the front and the rest to the back.
I do need to figure out something. I care a little too much to remain indifferent.