Giving up

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by AndreaQ, Feb 21, 2018.

  1. AndreaQ

    AndreaQ Rookie

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    Hi everyone,

    I teach in a low income/high risk area so a lot of the issues I deal with I guess are "expected".
    My problem is 95% of my students are failing due to their inability to follow simple instructions like write your name on your paper before you turn it in. I have tried offering tutoring after school every single day, I stay for 1-2 hours but no one shows up. I have call home to request permission from parents to have their students stay for "mandatory" tutoring but even then the kids walk out and do not stay. I have tried grading on a combination of effort and correctness (I Teach Math) but most of the kids do no try at all or their "trying" is so ridiculous it makes it really hard for me to give them any credit. I offer them materials if they don't have them, I offer them the opportunity to correct their test so they can get a better score, I do weekly quizzes where they can use their notes and they still fail. I have talked to my admin and Math coach but they keep telling me to lower my grading scales, and give them credit for just turning in a paper no matter how little effort they put it. I am getting frustrated because I feel like I should not lower my standards, this is how these kids got the point where they are because all the "blame" is put on us teachers and not them. Does anybody have suggestions or can you let me know if I should lower my standards?
     
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  3. phillyteacher

    phillyteacher Comrade

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    I wouldn't lower your standards. What kind of relationship do you have with your students? How well do you feel like you know them and what is going on in their lives? I find that I am much more successful with my students when I have a positive relationship with them.
     
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  4. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    If you are in a position, especially as a math teacher, where your admin and coach are telling you to "lower your standards" you are in a bad work environment. This is in the secondary forum, so you are (most likely) dealing in a situation where the kids know, from the past 6-11 years, that they will pass no matter what they do (or don't do)."Lower your standards" is a red flag and is admin speak for "don't bother us, just move the kids on to the next level like everyone else and all will be fine." Some teachers can conform to that kind of school under the old "I'm just doing what they tell me" mindset. But if you see teaching as just more than a "job", which I suspect you do, you will never be happy or comfortable in an environment where everyone is pretending to do school. In the short term, keep doing what you are doing (how are math standards negotiable anyways??). Next year, teach somewhere where the kids are expected by the admin to meet grade level expectations. Believe it or not, those schools do exist. Good luck... I once worked for a P with that type of cancerous mindset towards learning. He was just counting the days til his retirement and really did not care one bit about the students or their academics.I left.
     
  5. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    I don't get it, either, how lowering grading standards is going to help the students achieve in math. Instead of grading scales being the problem, the problem is the students not comprehending the subject and giving up. The common colloquial excuse is, "I'm just not good at math," or even more commonly, "I stink at math"--said jokingly as if math doesn't matter. Yet math is entwined in everything! To ignore math is--to ignore much of life.

    Rather than dumping the grading scale, I might prefer to dump the curriculum. If 95% are failing, this is a crisis situation. I might increase the application and then work in the calculation. Perhaps start with a high interest situation and apply the math to it, perhaps beginning as a whole class then diverging into cooperative groups. Perhaps a special oomph could be added by including Skyped conferences with applicable sources of information. Again, if completion of the curriculum isn't currently occurring anyway, I wouldn't worry about slowing down the pace; (it would be important, however, to continue the pace with the 5% who are achieving, maybe through alternative homework or perhaps they could become more involved within the current projects by enhancing the exploration).

    Just off the top of my head, (and I'm an elementary teacher, so I'm really groping in the dark, I suppose--maybe the following ideas wouldn't be as workable, but I thought I'd throw them out as they might lead to more useful ideas). I read that just this month, UFO's have hit the headlines in some areas. I can see where classroom research could involve math skills, such as comparing observed speeds, basics on radar and stealth technology (the most recent scare was the possibility that the UFO was an aircraft using stealth technology and the air force investigated), probability calculations, a basic study of networks, etc. Perhaps a study on how difficult it is to publish a song, (costs of recording a sample, the probability that it will be selected among all the other songs, costs of legal consultation). Charting and comparing the weather around the U.S. or the world might be an interesting project--perhaps even investigating the controversy surrounding climate change. Sports; health, fitness, and nutrition; the math that stuntmen use to perform in movies and TV; price comparisons of cell phones; might be avenues of exploration.
     
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  6. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Feb 21, 2018

    I would do one of two things: 1) submit my letter of resignation effective immediately, or 2) wait out the school year and then transfer to a school where students actually want to learn.

    Remember, you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, or think, in this case.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2018
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  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 21, 2018

    Do you mean that literally 95% of your students have Fs in your class?
     
  8. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Whenever I hear people bragging about not being good at math, I think it’s equivalent to them bragging about not knowing how to read.
     
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  9. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    I hate to say it, but those students are lost causes. You, as a teacher, can only do so much. If the students refuse to learn, then you should just leave...
     
  10. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I work with a VERY similar roster of students. Do you have the ability to pre-assess your students based on their current ability? I have high school students who are reading on elementary school levels and are similarly challenged with math ability. Perhaps finding material that is more suited to their abilities might give them a little confidence and a taste of success. My math counterpart (I teach ELA) uses AGS textbooks that give some heavy scaffolding for our kiddos. Could that help?
     
  11. TeacherCuriousExplore

    TeacherCuriousExplore Cohort

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    I am just a preschool teacher and do not have any experience in secondary education. However, I think all teachers will experience students that are not interested in some of the learning material we as teachers present to them. Have you tried modifying the lessons to their level or creating a math lesson centered around their environment?

    I am sure that if you google low-income math activities or subjects for low-income students you will find a lot.
    Many of the preschoolers I have taught are low-income black or Hispanic kids. We were given choices to find a curriculum that relates to state standard as well as disadvantaged kids.
     
  12. TeacherCuriousExplore

    TeacherCuriousExplore Cohort

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    Math will always be a difficult subject and I am not sure why. I am young and remember my high school math teachers vividly. My favorite math teacher taught me many geometric and algebraic equations by using materials or examples that I can relate to.

    Your School sounds much like the district I attended as a child and a teenager. Teachers were told to pass students despite their lack of knowledge in a subject. Please do not listen to your admin. I was poor at mathematics and mediocre in writing. Now that I am an adult, I wish that there were teachers that offered help to me so that I wouldn't have to struggle with math and writing during my college years.

    Even at 25 years old, I find mechanical grammar and math difficult. However, I am not as bad like I was in grade school because of the college instructors that took time out to tell me the truth and tutor me with mathematics and writing.
     
  13. AndreaQ

    AndreaQ Rookie

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    I would love to say that I know them well. I keep in contact with most of the parents (the ones I can reach either by phone or making home visits) but when I contact parents to offer tutoring for their students they tell me yes they can stay and parent will pick up but then the students refuse to stay and parents tell me they cannot force them, that the students do the same in their house and parents are hoping we(teachers) give them solutions to solve problems at home as well. I know that only about 10% of my students have very rough home situations (drugs, alcoholism, foster parents, etc) but the rest of my students show up with brand new phones (iphones), shoes, clothes so I know they are being provided for. I believe this is mostly them being used to doing a bare minimum and passing classes.
     
  14. AndreaQ

    AndreaQ Rookie

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    I am glad to hear I am ok for sticking to my standards, I truly believe that students should learn the material and not get pass along just because the district is demanding to decrease or failing rates so they can get money. I was planning to move schools but unfortunately if this situation is coming from the district I might even have to move districts.
     
  15. AndreaQ

    AndreaQ Rookie

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    This particular school focuses A LOT on state scores, which I know are very important for funding but then they offer different types of solutions that just end up contradicting each other, some trainings tell us to keep moving along even if the students do not understand the material because it is better to cover everything so the kids are expose to it. Other trainings we are being provided tell us to not move along, to reteach and differentiate the lessons. This school is so messed up now that I am writing this I am wondering how in the heck did I stay there for 3 years?
     
  16. AndreaQ

    AndreaQ Rookie

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    Yes, about 90-95% of my 215 students do not turn in any work, refuse to do anything in class, claim they dont have to do work, that Math is stupid, that middle school does not count etc.
     
  17. AndreaQ

    AndreaQ Rookie

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    This is a school that spends time and money investing, each of my student was given a chromebook in the beginning of the year so they can use it as a resource but yet they complaint that they have to carry their chromebook from home to school. When I try to do a lesson that involves technology about 50% of the students tell me they either broke their chromebook, they did not charge it or they simply left it at home. I also spent plenty of my own money buying materials for them like rulers, calculators, color pencils, personal white boards, markers but my students destroy these materials and I always end up more frustrated. The school has bought new desks (for a different class) the desks were a really big investment and now these desks are being destroyed (grafitti, breaking parts of the desk, scratching them etc). These are students who complaint we (teachers) do not thank them for bringing a pencil to class or even showing up at all, they have told us that them being there should be enough for us
     
  18. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    AndreaQ, you are seeing and describing symptoms of a school and population that is unhealthy and is lacking in leadership. We can help you all we can with lesson plans and tips for classroom management and all that (and will be glad to do so) but these strategies are band-aids. the best long term solution is to find a better environment. One in which learning is both expected and a priority.
     
  19. sportsguy

    sportsguy Rookie

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    Because it doesn't. If they fail middle school math, they are socially promoted to high school anyways. No one is held back. If a student doesn't learn the material, it's the teacher's fault. No one cares if students learn the material except for the teachers. The entire system enables parents to be absent from their child's education.

    Of course admin is pressuring you to inflate grades. They are evaluated based on if graduation rates are increasing. And the more students you send their way or parents who complain to them, the harder their job is.

    Everything in public education went to crap in the early 2010s. Suspension rates started replacing proficiency rates as measures of school performance. Students could no longer be removed from class for "willful defiance". States sold out to federal funding through Common Core and now every student is pushed into a college preparatory curriculum even though less than half can handle it.
     
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  20. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Hold on here! Every student was given a Chromebook? Please don't anyone misread my post. I'm totally in favor of STEM education, and I do believe that computers can be an advantage in education, but I'm also comparing this to when I first entered junior high as a 7th grader in 1970. OK, back track to what was then elementary school in 6th grade. I recall reading in Junior Scholastic about computers and yeah, I wished I had one like Batman had (which debuted when I was in 2nd grade). But looking back at how things were, I couldn't even use the telephone without permission! And I recall how helpful it was to have my mom in the kitchen when a phone conversation became typically tense (as can happen with young teenagers). Now kids have instant access to social media. When I was a kid, likes and dislikes resulted in name calling or a tumble in the grass. Friends were who I rode bikes with. Modern kids are plagued by profiles that determine who friended them among their multitudinous texts, posts, and uploads; compared to my experience of maybe an insult at school, or the kid that flicked my ear at my locker in 10th grade, I don't know how modern kids deal with it. I'm 60 years old, and I still got excited this morning when I saw 4 likes. I still feel concerned if a post gets dissected (although I always appreciate the counterpoint). How would I have felt at 12?

    OK, here's my point. These kids weren't progressing to begin with. A computer isn't going to solve all their problems. And if they're not using their computer for educational purposes, but are using their computer (or as mentioned, I-phones), for unsupervised social purposes, at 10, 11, 12, 13 years old--no wonder they don't feel like doing schoolwork. Case in point. And this is weird, I confess, but this is an example of how the mind of a 13-year-old works.

    When I was 13, my family visited New England. Our favorite activity during vacation was visiting museums. When the tour guide discovered I played the piano, she invited me to play an antique piano in the museum. After I finished, I looked up and saw a painting of the owner of the piano. I was sure the person in the picture was frowning--and probably at me. I imagined his ghost must be wondering why this twerpy little kid is messing with his priceless piano. I was so frightened, I was shaking for an hour, until I talked it over with my parents who of course assured me no ghosts were going to haunt me. But this is the type of still developing mind that deals with modern social media. Without supervision and guidance, this mind will imagine, exaggerate, extrapolate, and just plain worry over what to an adult is minor--to a pre-teen and young teen, nothing is minor.
     
  21. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 22, 2018

    Wow
     
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