My current burning question is, “Why do some kids get their assignments done, and others don’t. Simply–don’t.”
If the reasons why were the Seven Dwarfs, these might be their names:
- Boredom: I think it’s boring.
- Entertain-Me: I think Mrs. L is boring.
- Ennui: I don’t see any value in the assignment.
- Smarty-Pants:I already know this, and everything else. I have all the knowledge I will ever need, and I am 14! Whoo-hoo!
- Apathy: I don’t care to demonstrate any level of skill or creativity.
- Resignation: I don’t understand this, so I won’t try.
- Humdrum: It’s the same old routine anyway, so I might as well sit here.
I don’t use the “L” word, lazy. I don’t think most people are lazy. To me, laziness disappears when something is motivating or entertaining. Remember the 53 hours a week spent on media? Apparently, tweens/teenagers will work more than a full-time job on watching TV, texting, listening to music, playing on line games, video games, talking on cell phones, etc. Lazy? Hardly! They’re working their little thumbs down to the nub!
BUT – most of that media is one-way. It puts things in your brain, and you don’t have any content control. You are willingly, actively, giving up your own brain to electronic devices. Did you want to be a robot when you grew up? Well, okay then.
Here is my grading philosophy, which I share with every student at the beginning of the school year, and reinforce all year long:
All I ask is that you do the work to the best of your ability. Show me what you know, or have learned. If I ask you to write about the process, how you came to that knowledge, it’s to help me help you so you won’t continue with misinformation or misconceptions.
You give yourself your grade. You do the work, you get credit. Something is only truly graded on a scale when you have worked to revise, reflect, and polished – did you make your writing better? Did you make sure you hit the mark on certain assignments, meaning-did you look over the rubric and decide and evaluate your own work? I make this scale transparent and fair. For example, if I ask you to write a paragraph and add at least one line of figurative language (that we spent a week reviewing), then that is the scale by which it’s evaluated. Didn’t put in a single line of figurative language? Well, then you didn’t do the assignment as assessed.
Question: Is it that rewiring your thinking about your education is difficult, that you have been programmed to respond a certain way over the past nine years and now you can’t think for yourself?
Answer: I don’t know.
I look at assignments that have been turned in.
I see amazing work, from every level of academic ability. (And that’s a whole other issue!) I see work that students attempt, even if it misses some of the marks, that’s okay. That’s where the growth happens. I know that if a student consistently turns in work that meets every requirement, every point, I am not challenging them. I need to step it up for them.
I am really struggling right now with students who are arrogant. Who, at least outwardly, portray this image of apathy, boredom, and waste their intelligence and creativity by doing nothing. I try to remember that my students come to me with a long history of behaviors, but my own ego thinks my creative, interesting teaching will be the key to unlocking their genius. Wow–what kind of hubris is that? I’d better check my own reflection, I guess.
For those of you who turn in your work, who email me questions, ask questions in class, and stretch your thinking: Congratulations! You have decided to make your life more interesting, more creative, more imaginative than the next human. Your life is already more bright, more enriched by your own power, your own control.
And if you think I’m boring as a teacher, well, not much I can do about that. Call me Resigned. I love to develop lessons and units that I would like to do, that I wish I could have done in school, or I listen to other teachers’ ideas about interesting lessons, too. (It’s not just my perspective – I try to think about what you would like to do.) Before you start blaming others for your own actions, though, you may want to check in with your own head. You only see me about 235 minutes/week. You’re in your own life 10,080 minutes/week. My class is only .02% of your week.