A really good post

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HUGS! I can understand your frustration with the kids! I worked in a small rural community for the past 11 years and it was hard to get them to switch to TPRS when I did that originally and then when new kids came from outside the system, they hated the class.

Part of it is that it’s so different from what they are used to doing. They normally sit in class, listen to the teacher a bit, then get a worksheet. The smart kids fill out the worksheet fast and sit and talk. The not as smart kids talk while they are supposed to be filling out the worksheet and don’t worry about what doesn’t get done. Whatever the case is, sitting and actually paying attention for the entire class period is very hard for them to do because they never have to do it.

I’ve also discovered that teens can be some of the most inflexible people in the world. This is the way it’s done because this is the way it’s always been done. :o)

In some ways, I think we asked for that part. We’re supposed to differentiate instruction, to teach towards multiple intelligences. I’m not saying that’s necessarily bad, but if we spend all our time changing how we present things so it fits their individual learning style, then they have no reason to learn to be adaptive to whatever style the material is presented to them in.

It’s hard trying to work with a class like the one you just described. It’s hard to step back and calmly tell them to leave that negativity outside the magic door to your room. And especially this time of year, it gets worse. If you can just hang in there until break, maybe they’ll lose some of that attitude and be a little more amiable when they come back.

Maybe if you require them to do more written work, they’d feel like they were “learning” more. I made up a daily note form that we filled out every day because I had kids telling their parents we didn’t do anything in class. At least with the form, they could start to see what I considered learning something in my class. For really concrete learners (which it seems like I used to work with a lot of those), the not having a textbook and not doing worksheets thing is hard to get past. After all, in other classes, that’s their measure of doing something in class.

Seems like there’s always at least one of those kinds of classes, doesn’t it?

It’s so easy for us to give advice, but reality is a totally different story. Hope it works out for you! I hope you can at least move them a small way towards being more understanding of others.

This description of how our typical classroom setup and procedures condition students to passivity and reward seeking is extremely brief and pithy and oh so accurate. Giving written work to make them think they are “learning” is the sort of manipulation of their value system that I think is so useful and for which I have been castigated. It makes sense: calm them down while you work your magic.

She, the writer, goes on to mention that for all the great value we see in meeting students “where they are”, we also have to move them off that spot. We play to their strengths but help them fortify their weak points.

How much of our students’ behavior is a reaction to the negativity they hear from adults, from teachers (my old “kids these days” gripe), from parents? And how much is a defense against accusations of irresponsibility, lack of caring, indifference, and so on so often thrown at them? We had a thread on homework which I haven’t read every word of, so I cannot claim I am the only one to state this, but educational experts tell us students now have more homework than they ever did. Might their behavior, their attitude, be a reaction, a defense against night after night, weekend after weekend, holiday after holiday of homework piled on higher and higher in a shallow attempt to be rigorous? I was appalled to hear that teachers at my school had piled on homework for the five days we had off over Thanksgiving. What about kids whose families consider that time sacred to family, traveling to visit relatives, etc., leaving little time for homework?

I hope people join in this discussion. I don’t mind taking it back to the Listserv but I hope to see a vigorous discussion here so we can weed out people who cannot read and who filter everything through an ideological bias.

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