So much of school is cumulative. Each week builds on the previous one, each lesson uses information and skills from those prior.
If a student falls behind, even for a small period of time, it takes a supreme effort to try to catch up. This is one of the reasons why deficiencies when a child enters school are such a huge problem.
|I MADE A GRAPHIC!!!|
"Name one method of exoplanet detection that we spoke about last week."'
"What does that method do to find planets?"
"What's one advantage of that method?"
If they couldn't come up with answer, I had them check their notes. If they still couldn't, they shut down.
Angela Duckworth believes that in the face of adversity, students who are successful are the ones who push through. Instead of giving up, they double down and try to make up for lost time.
She calls this grit.
I don't believe in Duckworth because I've seen these kids work their asses off on the things that matter to them. For me to say that a kid is failing my class because they are lazy is overly simplistic and doesn't give credit to students who come from diverse backgrounds.
With that said, it's still very hard to be ignored and talked over. It's hard knowing that you are trying to teach a subject that they don't care about at all.
It's difficult to watch a kid ignore your lesson and KNOW that in 5 minutes, you're going to have the conversation with them about how they would do the work if you weren't such a bad teacher.
I don't know how to convey to them that they COULD be successful if they were willing to focus their energy on my class. I don't know how because I don't know what else they are going through and can't understand the situations that many of them face daily.
Diane Sawyer visited Strawberry Mansion High School in Philadelphia a few years ago and produced this heart-wrenching piece.
While my school isn't ANYWHERE near this one in terms of poverty, violence, or need, there are absolutely students in my building who are. They have needs that I can never hope to meet. What I can do, however, is provide them with a space in which they can feel safe and heard.
Man, is it hard not to take their lack of engagement personally.