Hi Everyone, Ok, this is a long post, but I have a lot on my mind. I teach 9th grade English and am currently in my 5th year. With each passing year, I am seeing a steady decline in academic resilience and emotional stability amongst students. I should note that I've only taught in school classified as Title I (low income, high risk students). I don't know if it's different in other districts... What used to be simple expectations have turned into problems. Parents and students are constantly complaining about something, and it's causing teachers to lower their expectations as they just don't feel like dealing with the hassle. It's extremely frustrating for me as I feel that having expectations (both academic and behavioral) should be a given--especially when students reach the high school level. This, coupled with the severe apathy/resistance to rise to higher academic standards, has caused me to consider leaving K-12 Education altogether and try my hand at teaching the college level. Then, I read this article Psychology Today entitled, "Declining Student Resilience: A Serious Problem for College." It basically explains that an overwhelming amount of students are entering college unprepared for the rigor and the possibility of struggling. Less resilient and needy students have shaped the landscape for faculty in that they are expected to do more handholding, lower their academic standards, and not challenge students too much. This is actually frightening. It's seeping into colleges and I assume the workplace as well. Students want more for doing less and have emotional breakdowns when they don't get their way. Let me share a conversation between one of my students and his guidance counselor. She sent me this transcript to not only reiterate that I'm doing my job correctly, but illustrate what the counselors are experiencing more frequently. Student: Man, I don't like Mrs. Dawson. I hate her teaching style. I want to switch classes. Counselor: Ok, let's take this step by step. What concerns you as a student in regard to her teaching style? Student: She gives us too much work. Counselor: Ok. How much is "too much" in your opinion? Student: She always has us writing in class and gives too many new vocabulary words to study. Counselor: What is "too many?" Student: 10 words week. Counselor: Well writing is supposed to occur in an English class and building your vocabulary will strengthen your writing. This is not sounding like too much to ask. Student: She gives way too many notes and assigns too much reading. Counselor: Well again, you're in a high school English class and it's very typical to take notes when learning new concepts. This is not a poor reflection of the teacher. And just as well, you are expected to read outside of the classroom. This is part of the English curriculum. Taking notes and reading are all typical components of an English course. Reading also helps to improve your vocabulary. Student: We didn't take this many notes in junior high. Counselor: Why yes, of course. You're not in junior high anymore. You're in high school. So, the work level may be more rigorous than you're used to. I can offer you strategies to help you. Are you interested? Student: No. I think she grades way too hard and is unfair. Counselor: Can you be more specific about the grading practices that you feel are unfair? Students: She's petty. She takes off points for grammar and spelling. Counselor: [takes a deep breath] It's...an...English...class. She's not pointing out errors to make you feel bad. She's correcting you in order to improve your writing. You are being grading for accuracy and mastery; not just completion. Students: Well no other teachers do this. Counselor: We're not talking about other teachers. We're talking about this teacher. And so far, what you're explaining does not sound unreasonable. They are typical expectations of an English class. Students: She's just too strict. Counselor: Ok, in what way? Student: She marks us tardy and sends us to the office for dress code. Counselor: This is the SCHOOL policy--not her policy. As students, you're expected to get to class on time and obey dress code. Student: Other teachers don't get us in trouble for being late. Counselor: Well that's a shame because it's a school rule. If everyone followed the rules, then there would be less confusion. Student: She corrects us when we're acting up. Counselor: Ok, well this is also normal. Students should not misbehave in class. Student: So you're taking her side over mine? Counselor: I'm not taking sides. I want you to understand that everything you've pointed out are just typical high school level expectations. They are not "issues," per se. I think you may just be struggling with understanding how a high school course is supposed to run. Did you get a syllabus for this class? Student: Yes Counselor: Did you read it and review it in class? Student: Yes Counselor: Did she explain how her class runs and outline her expectations? Student: Yes Counselor: So, none of this is a surprise then. Right? Student: No, I just think she's a teacher that's doing too much. Counselor: Well, from what you've explained, she's not. She has standards in her classroom, and quite frankly, all teachers should have standards in their classroom. It's what's best for students and will best prepare you for college. Student: So, you're not going to change my class? Counselor: What you've explained does not warrant a class change. What I want to do is offer you strategies so that you feel less overwhelmed and more confident in your ability to succeed. Also, learning to adjust to different teaching styles is going to be important for you as all teachers are unique. Student: *Becomes hysterical and storms out of the office* Here's the clincher: This student is in my HONORS CLASS! This blows my mind. The student is taking umbrage with having to do work and follow rules. Then, breaks down the second he can't get his way and when he encounters someone who doesn't buy his excuses. This is the mentality of a vast majority of our students. No wonder it's seeping into colleges. How do we stop this? Does it start in the middle schools? Is it because teachers are either afraid or just don't feel like dealing with parent intimidation (therefore lowering the bar in their classes)? Is it a lack of backbone on the part of school administrators? How do we get secondary teachers to be more consistent in keeping standards, not giving in to parent intimidation, and not giving into grade inflation? Thoughts?