My honors students are my laziest

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Odradek, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. Odradek

    Odradek Rookie

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    Mar 12, 2018

    I'm posting this both to vent and to field potential solutions.

    My sophomore honors class is by far the laziest I have ever had. They complain at every assignment, and there's just a really toxic, entitled culture in that room, one I've so far failed to turn around. They get angry when they get a B+ on an assignment. I'm pretty sure that their previous honors teacher gave everyone A's and read aloud to them all their reading assignments. I try not to blame other teachers, but it's hard not to sometimes.

    Ah, that's all.
     
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  3. ms.irene

    ms.irene Groupie

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    I have never taught an Honors course, but from what I have heard, this can be the culture in some classes. Entitled, used to getting all A's, etc. Laziness depends on what you mean by laziness -- I have heard that Honors students tend to be very grade-oriented, meaning they will work hard for "points," but are too often disengaged from what they are actually learning. I don't really have any solutions other than to keep your expectations high and stick to it, despite what they might have been used to in the past.
     
  4. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Phenom

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    The honors and gifted populations are some of the toughest to teach.

    I don't know how to fix it either.
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Par for the course. I haven't found a great solution.
     
  6. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    I teach honors and AP and they’re so overwhelmed with all the other honors and AP courses that if they can get away with whining for less work, they’ll do it. I find a lot of them will pick and choose when to do assignments (when they think or know I’ll collect it) because they have so much other work to do and many of my kids are up until the wee hours of the morning.
     
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  7. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Connoisseur

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    You’ve raised an excellent point. What I do for the gifted students is give them more difficult questions and concepts on the same standards. Don’t give them extra work because they will be disinclined to finish early, but challenge them so they actually are forced to work.

    Since I’m a math teacher, I make them derive formulas instead of just memorizing them. I stress understanding and not rote memorization. I will say, for example, “If I change this parameter, then would I still be able to do this? This being what we computed before.” Basically, I tend to ask them more open-ended questions instead of close-ended questions. To demonstrate, “These two triangles are both right triangles, but what are their differences? Is/are one/both (a) Special Right Triangle(s)? How do we know?” Or “Why is it that we could use the Pythagorean Theorem to find the height of the original triangle ABC, but we had to use the geometric mean to find the altitude of the inscribed triangle DEF?” Another way I often frame questions to my students is as follows, “It IS necessarily true that..., but is it necessarily true that...” to get them to think why mathematics is situational, meaning the formula or algorithm we apply depends on the situation and on the given context.

    These are just a few of the examples of how I get the gifted students to participate. They really perk up because I am constantly getting them to think and not giving them simplistic problems for them to solve.

    I’m of the belief that if a teacher’s gifted students are bored, then they are not reaching all learners and need to adapt their teaching style to accommodate those questions.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
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  8. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    This. Especially in class. They love to discuss and debate.
     
  9. Odradek

    Odradek Rookie

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    Thanks for the feedback. Yes, I've been challenging them with more rigor and moving at an accelerated pace. I've had advanced classes before, and they really responded to those challenges. But in this particular class seems to resent those challenges, while still expecting all A's. Will keep trying.
     
  10. ms.irene

    ms.irene Groupie

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    The Honors kids in my non-honors language classes are like this to some extent -- they are smart enough to know how to work the "system."
     
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  11. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Habitué

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    Our honors math classes are not allowed to grade homework, or anything other than written quizzes and tests. Homwork is assigned, but NEVER checked. This ensures their grades really represent honors understanding, and it's nice as we get lots of kids who drop honors into CP when they can't handle it. It elevates the level of discourse in both levels this way.
     
  12. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    That's my life. Throw in the uber-helicopter mothers and it can make for a difficult year.

    At my school kids can take honors if they want to. Or more, if their mothers want them to. So I often get students who are not prepared for the challenge and/or don't want the challenge. I refuse to lower the standards just because they want a bump for their GPA. So I also get a bunch of kids thinking taking honors automatically means an A.

    On another forum I had several mothers tell that they actually expect an honors class to be filled with almost all A's with a sprinking of Bs. That one, kids that are smart enough to be in honors should be getting A's for the mere fact that they're smart. And two, they should get all A's because they're the ones going to college.
     
  13. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I teach gifted/advanced fifth graders. I honestly probably have less 4's than most teachers do, because if you're going to get a 4 in my classroom, by god it'll be because you deserve one. I pride myself in being a firm but fair grader. I'm not going to give grades on the standards of all the kids in the grade level, I'm going to grade on my standards for the kids in front of me.
     
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  14. rpan

    rpan Comrade

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    I teach the advanced classes and I feel you. What I do when they whinge and whine about work and ask "is this going to be counted in our grade" is to tell them that everything they do is counted in their grades. When they are "between grades" and I have to make a judgement about whether their overall grade is an A or B or whether its a B or C, then I take into account everything they have done - homework, class participation, assessments, tests, quizzes etc. They makes them rethink everything their attitude of only studying for the "important" tests and dropping the ball on the other things because they think it is "unimportant".

    When the attitude is overly negative, i definitely contact parents to let them know that for a student in the advanced class, i would expect a more positive attitude to their work and if they are struggling with that then perhaps staying in the advanced class is not for their kid.
     
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  15. 3Sons

    3Sons Connoisseur

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    Mar 13, 2018

    I think they're probably not any lazier than your other students, they've simply devoted more intelligence to avoiding work.

    In behavioral psychology, application of aversive stimuli to reduce a behavior is called punishment. Punishment is never used to increase a behavior. The reason for this is because aversive stimuli tends to provoke escape behaviors.

    Your regular students have been trained, most likely, that the easiest escape behavior is simply doing homework.

    Your honors students have learned other behaviors. This is not really atypical of very bright students (or people, generally).

    You have a couple of choices. Either try to make doing the homework the easiest escape behavior, or try to make the work itself reinforcing (as futuremaths appears to do, above). One of these routes tends to have more lasting effects, result in less resentment, and be mentally healthier overall. Unfortunately, it can be a challenge to implement, depending on your subject and some of the natural proclivities of the students.
     
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  16. TravisSimmons

    TravisSimmons New Member

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    This does seem to be a common thing among some students. When I read your thread it I was thinking of some students that I have and some that I have had over the years. I taught Language Arts for several years and sometimes it can be difficult to motivate some students when they are not interested in doing the work. I think sometimes the best thing we can do for some of those students is teach them some skills that will be useful in life, that maybe others are not teaching them. After all, if you're teaching classes designated as honors, you better also be teaching compassion, because elitism is a struggle. Taking criticism can be a struggle. Collaborating can be a struggle. If you're teaching honors students, you better be teaching them to keep things in proportion because that little tiny fraction of a percentage grade is enough to send them over the edge (Wolpert-Gawron, 2010). This doesn't help us in terms of them getting their work done but it does help them become a better person if we can make an impact in these areas.
    I have recently switched and started teaching Social Studies and in doing so have implemented a new way of teaching my students. My classroom is now much more learner centered and project based. Students have a choice of projects they can work aligning with the various learning standards we are working on at the time. Some of the projects are mandatory (they have to be done by a given date, but the order they do them is up to them) and others are not. There are a variety of different projects (partner, group, independent, hands-on, etc) and some are more fun than others. The students seem to really like this as it gives them some say in what they are doing, and how quickly they are doing it. I have found that my honor students work much quicker than my other students (which is to be expected) and they do so in order to do some of the more entertaining projects (which they can only do if they have met the minimum requirement for completion that I have set). Teachers with extensive depth and breadth of content knowledge are better able to foster student motivation. These teachers have the background to be comfortable differentiating content, straying from the familiar textbook territory, and delving into a variety of instruction strategies, such as in-depth discussions, with their students (Siegle, Rubenstein, & Mitchell, 2014).
    I am reminded of something else I read once in which the author talked about the best thing in regards to teaching honors classes. The students have a way of making us dig deep within ourselves, searching for anything that will help to motivate them. They do have a way of keeping us on our toes. Hang in there and good luck!!
     
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  17. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Aficionado

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    This describes ME in high school to a T!!!!!!
     
  18. vickilyn

    vickilyn Virtuoso

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    There is another potential answer to the problem.

    Frequently honors students shouldn't actually be in an honors class. They are pressured by parents intent on finding ways to maximize GPA. If they struggle through one class and notice the GPA boost, they will assume that they can probably limp through other similar courses for the gain with little added work. Often teachers will let them stay, because that parent teacher conference that ends in "so I suggest that we move the student out of honors into CP" is very poorly received. If the work improves, it often means the parent is now "helping" at home, and you will note good grades on projects done out of school, but mediocre test scores. When honors becomes the new CP, no one truly wins.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2018
  19. TeacherNirvana

    TeacherNirvana Rookie

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    At my previous school, all I taught was AP and Dual Credit courses. Yes, there is a sense of entitlement (I feel) that comes with that particular group. Even worse, this sense of entitlement seems to be a large scale problem with this generation. My suggestion is that you just stay the course. Consistency is what they need to see from you. You also need to explain to them that, as they move up through the coursework, the work becomes more rigorous. You also need to remind them that you are a different teacher with a different set of expectations. I find that the use of rubrics helps in delineating expectations. If they see it on paper, then there is no wiggle room. Expectations are laid out from the beginning. Also, when they don't feel you've graded fairly, there is documentation as to your objectivity. I hope this helps.
     
  20. TeacherNirvana

    TeacherNirvana Rookie

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    I appreciate your thoughts here. I have also found that project-based learning keeps Honors students more focused. It's important to remember that you need to provide more rigor for these students. More rigor doesn't mean more work. It means going deeper and broader. Kuddos on the options. This covers the broader aspect. Project-based, inquiry-based learning provides the deeper. Again, thanks for sharing.
     

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