Elective Troubles

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Peregrin5, Feb 25, 2016.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Feb 25, 2016

    I haven't been an elective teacher for long, but this year, it's taking a toll on me. I had the issue with the homophobic 7th grader's dad, and now I have kids wanting to leave because they're failing the elective. This elective is probably one of the easier electives (as opposed to band, foreign language, and art). All you have to do is complete the projects and stay on task. I grade very easily, as long as they get their work done. These particular kids don't do anything in class, and then start failing. Their parents get angry and call (all 7th grade parents - this is why I can't deal with teaching 7th grade, they're too helicopter-y) telling me that their kids want to switch electives.

    I'm sorry, I can't help them. The only other elective open right now is band, and that's not really something you can jump into mid-year. I also have a feeling that the main reason these kids want to switch out is because they're failing because they're not doing anything or caring at all about the elective. I don't get these kinds of issues with my core class because I guess it's a required class, and kids don't really feel that they have a choice in it. Because it's an elective, they think they can just switch out when they're failing and fail in another class. </rant>

    I think I'm just getting touchy because it feels like a rejection of me and the class, when I put a lot of effort into making it fun and interesting for everyone. We do a lot of cool and fun projects that 90% of the class enjoys, but there are a few that have bad attitudes or are just extremely lazy.
     
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  3. miatorres

    miatorres Comrade

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    Feb 25, 2016

    Based on your description of your teaching approaches, I don't think that you should feel rejected because the 10% of these seventh graders in your class sound like they are just being insufferable. With any parents who say that they want their children to change electives, I would explain that it isn't possible to transfer into another class for a number of reasons. One reason is because one of the electives' purposes is for students to explore a subject that they may not have otherwise experienced; transferring out of the class would defeat the purpose. I would further explain this to the whole class periodically.

    I would also see if a counselor could speak one-on-one to the students who aren't participating and explain that if they don't put in the effort in every middle school class, they are going to be unprepared for high school.

    Which elective are you teaching?
     
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  4. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Feb 26, 2016

    It's a digital communications and tech support elective. The students learn how to make videos, podcasts, create digital posters, they take apart and repair computers, and even go to other classrooms to assist students and teachers with their tech issues. It's a lot of work to organize, but I think they've been enjoying it. I think there was an expectation that they could just blow off elective courses and they'd still get by (though some of the students blow off all of their courses, not just my elective), and it is kind of the dumping ground elective, where kids get sent when they aren't accepted in band or orchestra, or art, and most don't want to do foreign language because it's actual work. Many of them come in with a bad attitude that they never wanted this elective anyway, though most of those I convert easily.

    Thanks for your tips. I will talk to the counselors about this. (their plate has been overloaded this year though, so even if they don't get the chance it's okay; it just helped me to vent and be listened to)

    Next year, I'm implementing an application process to get into my elective so I can be a little more choosy about who gets in in the first place, and to limit the amount of students I have (I started the year with 37 :p ).
     
  5. artbrarian

    artbrarian Rookie

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    Feb 26, 2016

    omg can I sign up? I want to take your class :laughing::!!:
    Sounds like they thought it was an easy A class and then when confronted with work (ew! work!) they're ready to bail.
    I second on seeing if the counselors can speak with the kids. Have you spoken to some of them about why they aren't interested?
    You seem like the type of teacher that already has, but thought I'd ask.
     
  6. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Feb 26, 2016

    We always seem to lose between 10-15% of our students from our elective world language class -- it is seen as the "harder" language (although this is really not true IMO) and we also run a fast-paced program as opposed to some of the other language teachers (some, not all) who make their classes painfully easy. It's the students who wanted to be in the "easy" classes and find themselves in our classes due to overenrollment or scheduling conflicts who drop out. I don't take it personally -- if they don't want to be there, I don't really want them there, either!

    At the same time, my job status is based on our enrollment numbers, so I do everything I can to make my classes energetic, engaging, and "fun" while still keeping a rigorous pace and high expectations. It sounds like you are doing a great job of both these things, especially if your course is overenrolled to begin with! It's not a referendum on you, but rather on the students who would rather fail or get an easy A than do something meaningful, as well as the parents who back their kids up on this.
     
  7. miatorres

    miatorres Comrade

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    Feb 26, 2016

    Peregrin5, I also would love to enroll in your digital communications and tech support course! I think that it's an excellent idea to require next year's potential students to complete an application before they can be considered for this course. In my district, students must first complete applications and obtain at least one faculty/staff written recommendation to enroll in several electives, such as theater, dance, publications, and auto mechanics.

    Now that I know that your elective is digital communications and tech support, I have thought of a classroom approach that I'd like to tell you about. Would it be possible to share with students examples of how the skills that can be gained from this course are clearly marketable in this day and age? For instance, the class can brainstorm jobs that require a working knowledge of tech support. At my old school, a computer keyboarding teacher built tech support into this curriculum and shared with the students examples of jobs that required these skills. She pointed out that once they master these skills, they can add them to their future job applications.
     
  8. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Feb 26, 2016

    Thanks guys! :D
    Part of why I felt a little down yesterday was because I assigned them a project to create a video about what they enjoyed about the class and what they've learned so we could show it to the incoming students next year (before they sign up for their electives). Of course those jokers were saying things like "this is the worst class ever", or "it's so boring".

    Upon interviewing them further, this is the only elective they'd rather be in and they actually think it's one of their most fun classes. They just think pretending they don't enjoy it is "funny" for whatever reason. The group I'm dealing with is very immature this year.

    Kids are just weird.

    For the one that told their parent they want to transfer out, I haven't talked to him yet, because he was absent today, but my guess based on what the parent said is that he was getting chewed out for his poor grades and in anger probably decided it might be easier to get out of his predicament by saying he wanted to transfer out rather than complete the work to raise his grade. I doubt he actually doesn't like the class. He might be just trying to deflect blame away from himself.
     
  9. adeeb

    adeeb Rookie

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    Feb 27, 2016

    Your elective is definitely a course I would've loved to take in middle school! It sure beats my Computer Applications elective in high school, where we learned how to use Microsoft Office, which we had already been using for years. :sleeping:

    It seems like you're doing a great job, so I wouldn't worry about it, especially since 90% of the students in your class seem to enjoy it. In my middle school days, there was a cool factor in gearing towards the negative side of things, especially when it relates to school. For example, telling others that you enjoy a class made you a nerd. Social groups start to develop in a middle school environment, and students are concerned with how others view them. As a result, they might not act in accordance with their actual feelings.

    Your grading policy is as easy as it gets, but maybe that could be a cause of concern? For the future you might want to consider upping the expectations just a tiny bit more. If students know they can do the bare minimum to pass, they may slack off and expect to put in little effort to get through the course. There might be a discrepancy in how much effort is required and how much effort they expected to put in.
     
  10. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Feb 27, 2016

    Good points. I'm hoping their poor grades wake them up that they can't just skate by in my class.
     

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