I hate to see a student look completely and entirely uninterested in what is going on in class. For the past few years, I've held back from saying and doing anything because of fear. I'm afraid the other teachers will judge me and think I'm just wasting my time on a lost cause. I'm afraid the student won't care and my effort to reach out will have been an exercise in futility. I'm also afraid that I'm really not doing any good by caring anyway. Am I really making a difference? At the end of the day, does my caring result in increased motivation or quality work?
I don't know why I've changed starting this school year, but I just have in an enormous way. I just care! I want so badly for these kids to see how they can improve their lives by learning. I want to show them how complex most of the things they do on a regular basis are and that it isn't that hard.
In one class I'm teaching, there is a student who is always there but not really there. He just doesn't seem to care about anything at all. I feel like a broken record telling him over and over again, "sit up," "pay attention," "pick your head up." And I'm not getting anywhere just saying those things. I'm not treating the cause; I'm only trying to do away with the symptoms.
So, I couldn't help it any longer. Yesterday, I pulled him into the hallway and spoke with him. I said, "I want so badly for you to do well. I want you to feel interested in being here. I also want you to succeed." Then I asked him, "Do you want to pass? Why do you seem so uninterested in everything?" He answered, "I do want to pass. I don't want to go through the same class all over again. It's just that I work every day right after school until late at night. I'm so tired." I asked him if he has time off. He said one day a week. It is so hard to say anything about that. He needs to learn, so how is he going to do it?
I don't know yet. I don't know what to do yet. But at the very least, he knows and understands that I really care. And I think he also really cares it's just figuring out how to get past a difficult hurdle now.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Running frantically around the house on Monday morning, I was feeling a mess. First of all, I was having some nausea, fatigue (from lack of sleep), and general frustration in the fact that I wasn't ready to go spend 8 hours of my life at school. And, though this goes against the core of my practice, I firmly believe school is the most inefficient use of time during a day.
Within a 90-minute block, you will, in fact, capture the full attention of the students for maybe a total of 45 real minutes (if that). Other than that, you are spending time trying to figure out how to keep things interesting and engaging without having them just sit there and finish work with the extra time. Yes, let's admit it, that's what we end up doing. Because we don't have any other use for the time. In one sense, this is good for those students who wouldn't get the work done at home; however, it seems that it is too much time even for them.
The question I have been asking is WHY DO WE HAVE TO SPEND 8 hours at school to consider it an effective school day? I could teach a student the same thing in 20-30 minutes time that I stretch out over 60-90 minutes. I am not against having kids go to school, but I am just saying that the majority of the time spent there is done daydreaming and socializing (and attempting to socialize when they're not supposed to).
Even during the orientations I've gone to, I've been reminded of how dreadful it is to be in school and be shuffled from room to room as you are forced to have information packed into you. On one such orientation, by the time I went to my 6th hour-long session of the day, I'd entirely forgotten what I was supposed to have learned in the first session. No matter how exciting, entertaining, or engaging some of the sessions were, the wear of the information overload of the day caused most of it to become a vague memory (if there was any memory at all).
So, as I pulled myself together for school on Monday, my mind was buzzing with thoughts of what a waste it is to go to school. I love my job and my school. I just never have (and still do not) see the point of spending such massive amounts of time there. And we wonder why our first period class has such trouble recollecting what we reviewed the previous day.
As a child in elementary school, I daydreamed of becoming a principal and instating a rule that all children must have rocket ships to sit in so that they can be comfortable and happy whilst working. I couldn't wait to make a change. And, though I am much more grounded in reality than designing rocket ship seats for children, that is still why I want to teach.
I have told other teachers before that I do not like school. It baffles them entirely. One teacher once said to me, "I love school! That's why I'm here! How can you be a teacher and not like school?"
Well, here's how.
I like kids, students, pupils (call them what you will). And I like empowering them for life. I like showing them how learning things can help them in life. No matter how much I might not enjoy difficult students, my mind thrives on the challenge of analyzing the inner workings of their minds.
So, when I get up in the morning, I am Winnie the Pooh on a Blustery Day. The forces of nature are against me, and I must do everything in my power to keep Piglet under control and from being blown away or overwhelmed by it all.
Tigger might be bouncing off the walls, and Eeyore will inevitably come in with a bad attitude.
And, though I don't care for that wind working constantly against me, it is my job to round everybody up and make the best of it.....Even if I did forget my pants.