Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Favorite Question of the Year

"Did Emily Dickinson write Moby Dick?"

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The "B" Word

Based on what I've been feeling, hearing, and reading, it really seems like a lot of teachers are reaching the dreaded "burnout."

Mine comes directly on the tails of reading 50 rough drafts--about 25 of which completely ignored the essay assignment. And, my first reaction is to blame myself... I apparently didn't explain it well enough. But, then I got to thinking...

1) I gave them a detailed explanation of the essay assignment, what was required of the rough draft, and the scoring guide.
2) I explained it verbally in class.
3) I gave an EXAMPLE essay that outlined the organization, thesis statement, and I mean... it's an EXAMPLE.
4) I made each student get their thesis statement approved by me--and explained to many of them that this was NOT a persuasive essay and their thesis should not show any bias.
5) I reminded them over and OVER again they need to read the requirements of the assignment before they turn it in.

So... what more could I have done?

And the total pointlessness of that question leaves me dreading the next week. In talking with other teachers, we're all seeing the same thing--a complete lack of work ethic, self responsibility, or respect. And right now, I don't know how to combat those things. And, I can't help but feel they're societal and our world is going to hell.

I know, I know, I just need to learn to adapt to a new species of learners, but it's hard when they refuse to learn.

I had a parent email me telling me what I need to do with her child. And, my first response is to explain what HER CHILD needs to do (you know, turn in work that's completed). But instead, I get to bite my tongue and nod my head. Sure, I'll do that. Let's not have HIM do anything.

What more can I do? I know I'm not the best teacher in the world. I know I probably suck. But, I try. I seek help from colleagues, research, psychology, but in the end I just don't know how to get through to a group of students who refuse to read, listen, or care--and I feel bad for that group that DOES care and is getting a 100% and probably not learning as much as they could because I'm constantly repeating directions, explaining disappointments, and just banging my head against a brick wall.

In the end, I need a break to reevaluate the course we're on, to figure out how on earth I'm going to reach these kids, and prioritize: what do they really need to know to move on to the next level?