I am hoping you all can give me some perspective, share wisdom and maybe stories that will help. I am teaching art classes at a small high school and I have realized this year what a difficult situation I am in. Students have 8 periods which means all but the most truly undeserving graduate. Since my classes are electives and aren't necessary for graduation, a number of situations emerge: A) Most of the students feel they shouldn't have to work as hard as in their "core classes" because my classes aren't, in their eyes, important. B) I teach because I am passionate about the arts and in fact feel that learning them well will benefit most people in more significant ways than many other classes they will ever take, in high school as well as in college. C) If my classes don't attract enough students to sign up for them, they are in danger of not being run the following year, which creates problems for me. D) Some students make choices according to priority to not complete work for my classes while doing so for other classes. This is evidenced by the fact that when I look at their report cards I see that they aren't failing most of their classes as their work habits in my class had me assume, but are often getting A's, B's and C's in other classes. I've had situations this year where kids have bailed out of one of my courses in large numbers, saying it was too hard. Since that time I've eased things up quite a bit, but many still come to classes without having completed homework and I find all of this highly offensive. I know it's not personal, but it does take a toll on my morale. I know I should concentrate on the kids who care. They are the ones my teaching is really benefiting, and that should be good enough. Still, there's the expectation that a teacher should appeal to a wide range of students- the majority. And from time to time the students will make comments that really frustrate me, suggesting that they don't have to do as much in other classes or that I'm too demanding. I am very self-aware about how I teach. In fact, the kids who get A's, B's and even C's are kids who try. So I suppose that should be good enough, right? The ones who make excuses about failing, like that my courses are just electives, or that they don't count, or that they don't need them to graduate, or resist doing anything because they didn't originally choose the class aren't going to add up to anything anyway. Regardless of what the good students think or say, they will always make an effort in every class because they recognize the value of their education. I suppose they're the ones who matter. I just feel like there's too much resistance; that I have to somehow meet this ambiguous level of appeal. I'm tired of it. I think I need to simply understand the culture of my school and my place in it, make choices about how I'm going to teach within that context, and then follow through without second-guessing myself. I would love to hear your thoughts. I'm also sure some of this comes from the fact that it's burnout time of year, and fortunately we have a long winter break!