Feeling a lot of frustration

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by a teacher, Dec 13, 2014.

  1. a teacher

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    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!
     
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  3. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Dec 13, 2014

    I can tell you are passionate about what you do, and I agree that the arts are extremely important in education and life.
    On the other hand, an 8 period day can add up to a tremendous amount of homework, for high schoolers who also need other outlets.

    Good luck, and have a great break.
     
  4. a teacher

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    Ironically, they don't get or do much homework compared to many other students across the state and country. They are just conditioned to not have much work ethic, have lousy home lives, and whatever.

    I take offense to the fact that they don't think they need to work in my class because it's an elective. Or if they do work, they tell others to avoid taking my class because it's not all fun and games. I'm hoping I'm wrong about that last assumption.
     
  5. gr3teacher

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    My guess is you are absolutely correct in that assumption. I know that's how I was in high school and college. I busted my ass off in my core and major subjects, so when I took a class that wasn't required, but that I was taking for fun, I didn't put much after-hours time in for it. Whether it's right or wrong, a lot of hard-working kids are going to plan on your course being their blow-off class, unless they legitimately love art. I was a music major undergrad, and spent plenty of time in high school/college taking music classes with non-majors that expected easy A's, and honestly, it was hard for me to blame them... no matter how frustrating it was as somebody who wanted to put in the hard work.

    A lot of kids might also be working harder than you think they are. I know in 8th grade, I had 100% averages in all of my classes... except art, where I had a 66%. My teacher lectured me constantly on working hard and holding myself to higher standards, and I just nodded along, said something about not really liking art, and trying to do better. I never bothered telling him that I spent twice as much time on his subject as I did for my other subjects... combined... and that I just really was that untalented. It was so demoralizing that I ended up changing majors twice in college just to avoid ever needing to take an art class other than a 101 Art History class.

    What can you do to make your class rigorous, but keep out-of-class expectations lower?
     
  6. GeetGeet

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    I am an art teacher in a high school and our system works similar to what you describe--the classes need to be popular enough to get enough students to enroll, or else they don't run (I personally think this is a weird system and creates a sort of "popularity contest" between the elective teachers, but that's how it it at my school).
    When I first started teaching I gave weekly homework and it was met with a lot of resistance. I found it extremely frustrating to deal with and many kids got poor grades because they didnt do it. Of course, many kids DID do it, but overall it was a source of frustration for the kids and for me.

    So now, I only give homework in my AP Studio and Advanced Art classes--and Advanced Art still only gets homework once every few weeks. I try to keep my classes rigorous and I have very clear rubrics, but I also try to keep things fun especially in the lower level art classes.

    So, even if it feels like a sell-out, I suggest you roll back the homework unless its a higher level course. If you are happy teaching certain classes it really is the only way to keep the enrollment up enough for those classes to run. It's definitely unfortunate, but the way your school runs enrollment kind of sets you up for that.

    BTW--my students do, for the most part, still take my class seriously despite the lack of homework. I have shortened my due dates over time (not necessarily because of the lack of homework, but because I found that kids worked harder overall if they have a bit of a time constraint), and kids that are invested in the class will take things home to make their projects suit their standards.

    Good luck!
     
  7. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    I took every art class available in high school and the only one that ever had anything close to homework was my art portfolio class. Most of the art I did wasn't anything that could have been taken home anyway due to size or other factors (I couldn't very well take my jewelry making stuff home and solder or cast silver at home). Honestly... I think I would have been annoyed if my art teachers had given homework on top of homework from my core classes. Electives were for fun, they're the free choice classes to get a break from math and science and English.

    This isn't to say you can't have a rigorous art class because it's an elective, but it baffles me to think of having homework for an art class unless someone is really behind on a project. Strong rubrics, shorter deadlines, and maybe more projects through the semester can be rigorous without adding the frustration -- for you and for your students -- of trying to get homework done as well.
     
  8. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    This thread reminds me of a great joke I heard in college ( a very long time ago) A guy on GI bill took 14 hours of trig, Chemistry, Biology and Calc. It was a killer semester but he needed one more hour to get all his GI bill check. So he heard about the easy "bird class" and signed up. Taught by an old Prof. for years and notorious for athletes getting that easy A. Our boy shows up first day and a young guy is teaching. Turns out the Prof. had passed away. The young guy was passionate and full of P&V First week he assigned 3 chapters and a big test on Friday. SO our boy studies hard (along with all the other hard classes) and shows up Fri for the test. The test was a picture of 30 birds all from the mid leg area down and you had to identify them. Our Ex GI had enough and stood up saying "this is insane and you are nuts" The young Prof. replied "who are you sir" The GI pulled up his pants leg and said "you tell me"
     
  9. Linguist92021

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    What kind of home work do you give? On average how much time is needed to complete it, how soon is it due after given and what kind of supplies do the students need?
     
  10. a teacher

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    Thanks guys. Your responses are a real help.

    It IS demoralizing about the kids' attitudes. I guess I simply have a problem with my classes being considered the easy A's. Mind you I don't have a problem with my classes seeming fun, but I take the material seriously and I can't help equating what you're recommending as making for a lower importance class than "core" subjects. After all, why shouldn't all classes be equally important? Why does there have to be a hierarchy?

    As far as what I assign for homework, you guys would probably be surprised how easy it is. Firstly, if students fall behind on a project, need extra time or have been absent of course. It may be an hour or two of work, but on a block schedule they have 2 days. Sometimes they just need to write a paragraph or a five paragraph essay.

    I also wonder about how much poor/lack of planning and procrastination has to do with their pathetic academic habits. And I can't help thinking that at more affluent schools (population-wise) 90% of homework gets done.

    Does anyone know or are we all teaching poor kids with messed up home lives?
     
  11. LouiseB

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    I work with sped kids. Our art teacher requires that they write an essay about an artist. However, this is NEVER worked on in class so it is done outside class time. This also means that the teacher is not helping with the essay. What bothers me is that it is difficult enough to get the core classes completed without having to find time to help them with an essay for a non-core class. (I know that it is not returned to students which tells me the teacher probably doesn't even look at it.) I also have the same issues with the music teacher. I don't mind if they assign essays but please take the time to work in class or if you don't have time, don't assign!!
     
  12. Go Blue!

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    All classes are not equally important and that's just a fact, especially at the HS level. Some classes are graduation requirements or are tested and others are put on the schedule because we can't give kids 5 study halls a day so we offer electives. That might be demoralizing, but it is what it is. I know this because I teach history, so I am near the bottom of the hierarchy.

    At some schools, electives are seen as the easy classes and place-fillers when there are no other academic classes to put kids in. Admin do not view these classes as being as serious or important as the classes that are graduation requirements or tested. I teach a History elective - African-American Studies - and I know that this class is a place-filler even though not necessarily a "fun" one. I treat it as such and do not expect the same environment or requirements as in my US and World History classes.

    Personally, I would get over your frustration and decide what battles are worth fighting. If you want to battle it out or get upset over HW all year long - be my guest. Good luck. You might find that some kids are not threatened by failing electives because they can graduate anyway. I had a kid tell me last year they were doing me a favor by even showing up to my elective - where they slept all period.

    Also, if you find your students academic/study habits "pathetic," then maybe you should take the time to teach/reinforce good study skills and habits especially if this is a problem with most of your students. This way, you will be instilling skills they can take with them and use in other aspects of their lives.
     
  13. Linguist92021

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    Really? They "just" need to write a 5 paragraph essay? It is not as easy as you think. I teach English, a 5 paragraph essay is not something you pull out of your hat.
    I can see why they blow off homework if it's a 5 paragraph essay. I'm just putting myself in your students' shoes, and if they have a lot of homework from their other classes (core classes) and then a 5 paragraph essay for art, they will probably put it off, procrastinate because they other classes take precedence or just completely blow it off.

    My students are much lower level than yours, and right now we're writing a 5 paragraph essay in class. I have about 5-8 students who won't even attempt it because they think they can't write, it's intimidating, etc, so it's easier to not do it. I have been walking them through brainstorming, outline, rough draft, peer edit, etc, and some of them just won't do the essay (they tried everything else, but the actual paper is blank)

    I would suggest to give them smaller writing assignments, such as paragraphs.


    If you are teaching kids in poverty with messed up home lives, instead of looking at it as a horrible thing (it sounds like you see it as inconvenience to you) you should change your thinking, get to know your students and their situations and then adapt your teaching style / philosophy.

    I get that you want to have high standards, I do, too. I've been 'struggling' with that in alternative ed for years because I always found that most teachers dumbed down the curriculum and watered down the rigor. So I was always the teacher who gives too much work.

    I haven't changed for my English classes, but have changed for electives, and that made a difference.


    Also: students who live in poverty and have messed home lives are often struggling with actually sleeping in a safe place, they might experience abuse at home (often), and often have to work to help out the family. They don't care about your homework. They come to school for the food, the socialization, often networking (where can I sleep tonight, and possibly have something for dinner?), and because they feel it's a safe place.

    Sorry, not trying to be mean, just saying how I see it.
     
  14. 2ndTimeAround

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    I teach a high school core class and although I often tell my students and colleagues that ALL classes are important, I don't think they are equally important. Some classes matter more to the school, to the district and to the students' lives. Sad as it is, understanding how to read a newspaper article is more important than learning about the artists in the ______ period. Knowing basic algebra will be more beneficial than knowing the difference between hue and shade. If I had to rank courses in order of importance, my own would be #3. My state agrees with me and has used those same three classes to determine the school report cards.

    I suggest you revamp your grading (and possibly perception) a little. Maybe make it so your class is really easy to pass but difficult to get an A in?
     
  15. GemStone

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    I teach elementary, but I have two children of my own who are in high school. I don't allow them to blow off electives because I will not see their GPA fall because they don't want to do the work, or expected the class to be easier than their core subjects or "favorite" electives. They're not allowed to get As in core classes and BAND (which they adore) and fail Spanish or Art.

    Bring it up to the students in terms of their GPA. Some will care, some won't.

    It all starts in the home.
     
  16. Go Blue!

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    Which we have no control over ...
     
  17. a teacher

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    I think those of you who are saying Art is not important, don't understand it. I didn't post this issue in the Art thread because I wasn't sure if there was enough traffic there. Here's my counter-argument to those who think core classes are more important:

    Algebra has made no difference in my life. With the technology we have, knowing basic arithmetic isn't even what it used to be. Science concepts don't really matter in real life either, unless you're going into that field. English? Well, it's good to know how to write, but we are certainly not a literary society.

    What we are is a VISUAL CULTURE. What I am teaching is how to understand and contribute to that culture, rather than merely being a spectator. Schools don't take Art seriously it's true. But this is because our society doesn't. And look at the state of it.

    Ranking classes in terms of importance? I can't believe what I'm reading from some teachers. You sound like high school kids! Yes, it all begins with the family. Serious students come from good families (rich OR poor) who take all classes seriously. Surprisingly many parents of my students get upset with them when they do poorly in one of my art classes. Arguing about the overall effect on GPA is a practical approach to motivating the kids, but so is showing passion for your subject and not tolerating belittling talk.

    And if you're a "core" teacher, yes you can blow off an elective you may have to teach because after all, why expend the energy when the courses you're serious about are those under your subject matter? I'd do the same.

    I would have hoped that non-Art teachers would by now, after all the data and all the studies and writings, understand that the arts develop students brains in ways that no other subject touches, and improve academic skills across ALL areas! If there was another art teacher in this conversation they'd have a lot to say...
     
  18. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    GeetGeet is an art teacher.
     
  19. a teacher

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    Right. Geet, get in here!

    Also wanted to add:

    Regarding the 5 paragraph essay, it's just taking notes they've written in class and putting them into paragraph form according to a certain format. And I read for content. I don't worry about grammar and sentence structure, which is usually frighteningly bad! Maybe this is something that requires tons of scaffolding for your students, but kids at my child's school do this kind of work routinely in elementary school!

    I also wanted to point out that because of the rigor of my classes, my students learn critical thinking in ways that are deeper than many of their classes. Then add the hands-on stuff they do in production and they are learning in yet another way.

    Lastly, as I ask them, do you really think you're going to be competitive to colleges as an applicant when you have a Fail on your transcript for an art class? And by having art classes on your transcript that you've done well in, you show you are a more rounded student.

    Add to this getting the foundation to build a career in the Visual Arts!
     
  20. TeacherGroupie

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    a teacher, you're misreading what the teachers who have posted here are telling you: you've decided that they're relating their feelings about the importance of art, when in fact what they're describing is the process - something like triage in medicine, but with adolescent-level judgment and foresight (in other words, not much) by which high-school students with a lot on their plates decide how much time to devote to which of their high-school courses at which point. That's a very different matter.

    You've argued that we are a visual culture and that it's important to know how to participate in it. I agree. But in that case, each of your classes needs to make the case to your students as to why it should matter to them, and you're going to need to show them how. You can't just tell them to write a five-paragraph essay about art without equipping them with the tools to do so - and no, it isn't the English teacher's job to do that, because it's not the English teacher's job to teach art's vocabulary and argument structure for you: it's yours. Furthermore, it's up to you to show kids how art connects to and is supported by the rest of what they're taking. It's your job to make and exploit the connections - two way, not one way - between art and literature, art and history (that one's easy), art and economics (even easier), art and science, art and math, and so on, and to show your students how to look for them. Which might mean you need to learn to appreciate them yourself, because one can't effectively teach what one doesn't buy into.
     
  21. a teacher

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    It could be a misread, but it does sound like some of them believe art classes aren't important, especially when they suggest they'd use logic similar to what the kids are using.
    I hope you're right. But if it was so, the responses might be more like, "Your courses are important, but because the educational system doesn't position them as such, you can try..."

    You are assuming that when I ask them to write, there's nothing meaningful in it, and that's not true. The writing is part of a larger process of deriving meaning from what they see and make. I try to make what I teach as relevant as possible to their worlds, and I also point out how what they are learning in my class relates to other areas of learning. However, I've realized it's a delicate balance of motivating them to work, providing good instruction, connecting to their worlds in the material, hands-on and critical thinking work.

    I just feel undermined sometimes.
     
  22. TeacherGroupie

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    Feeling undermined often makes it easy to misread what others write. For one thing, I never said, and I wouldn't say, that there's nothing meaningful when you ask your students to write. Writing is, among other things, one of the classic ways a person learns what she thinks! But let me put it this way: Your students haven't written in art before starting your class, yes? And students at ANY age (yes, and teachers) often have difficulty with skills transfer - in this case, with making the connection between writing they know how to do in discipline A and writing they haven't yet done in discipline B. It's the job of the teacher of discipline B to help students bridge that gap, and the process involves vocabulary and discussion and lots and lots of modeling.

    Have you and your students ever considered graphs as art? Or electrical diagrams, or maps, or anatomical drawings?
     
  23. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    A five paragraph essay in 2 days for students who have 8 classes is just mean, sorry. Even more so for an art class. I teach history ( a core class) and wouldn't assign that much work. The homework is over the top. How many students might have been turned OFF of art because it's just too much work to handle?
     
  24. 2ndTimeAround

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    You've kind of proven my point for me. I said that IF I had to rank classes, mine would be third. IF. You misread my tone. Misreading tone can be horrible in the workplace. Which is why I would (IF I had to), place English/Language Arts first. Even you noted that your students' writing is bad. Something that carries over to all of their classes. Obviously more time in English class would be beneficial.
     
  25. DrivingPigeon

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    I'm getting my masters in reading right now, and this was a huge discussion in a secondary reading/writing class that I just finished taking. Writing should be integrated into all subject areas, but non-English teachers typically assign 5-paragraph essays on a subject that they already know a lot about. Instead, students should be using new knowledge to reflect, make connections, and grow in that content area. Five-paragraph essays are kind of boring and old-fashioned...What about keeping a journal? "What do you know now about ____ that you didn't know before? How can this information help you when creating a _____?" Teachers should support this type of writing in the classroom, because many students, even in high school, need improvement with writing skills. If we leave teaching of writing and reading skills up to English teachers, students aren't going to grow and improve with these skills as they should.

    My point is, maybe students don't really know how to write a good 5-paragraph essay. If you're going to assign writing, I would model how you would like it to be done, and take some class time to work on it, so that you can help students.
     
  26. bekkilyn

    bekkilyn Rookie

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    What I don't understand is why these essays and such can't be done in class and instead have to be assigned as homework? Students spend *hours* of their day in school and I don't think they should have to spend hours of additional time outside of school doing even more school. If their core classes are giving homework, then homework in other classes need to be severely limited. It doesn't mean those classes aren't important in their own right, but we all have limited time in our day to do things and some of these things need to be prioritized over others.

    With that said, I do believe art as well as physical exercise are crucial to a school curriculum, and strongly disagree with those who do think they are unimportant, but it still doesn't convince me that students should be up until midnight doing homework for 6 different classes.
     
  27. Go Blue!

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    OP, you say you're feeling "undermined and demoralized" which leads me to believe that you might be a little "sensitive" over this situation. You might be taking your students' attitudes toward your class and assignmnets as something personal aganist you. This may be clouding your ability to be reasonable about the situation. It may not.

    I guess, my point was (and still is) that if you are working at a school where the art classes are not seen as important, it is up to you to decide what battles are worth fighting. This may be a time where you have to compromise your expectations.

    Also, you mentioned that your students should want to get "As" in art for their transcript; but, you also said that you are teaching kids from poor backgrounds with poor academic skills. If this is the case, threatening to fail them may not motivate them to work becuase some do not care about their GPA, transcript or going to a four-year college. All they want is a diploma and your threats may not have the affect you want. Just sayin'.
     
  28. greendream

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    It's all well and good to have your soap box speech about how art is more important than Algebra and English, but when it comes down to brass tacks, your subject is an elective that may or may not appear on the schedule next year, and Math and English certainly will. No amount of ranting is going to change that simple fact, so I would abandon that line of argument if I were you.
     
  29. Linguist92021

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    OP if I were you, I'd seriously rethink everything: curriculum, approach to the students, and assigning homework. You said this class is dependent on enrollment, and it sounds like you're alienating students from signing up for you class. Next year you class could be cut and you might even lose your job or get reassigned somewhere else.

    I think you're taking you're students' attitudes and point of view a little too sensitively. They're not out to get you, none of this is personal. I know where you're coming from with high expectations, but you gotta lighten up a little, because you might have some major classroom management issues later on. If the students stop caring about homework, and their grade goes down, eventually they will stop caring about doing the work in class, because they're already failing and then you have a disaster in your class.
    It might not be the whole class, but what if you have 5-10 kids act up and not care anymore?

    Also it sounds like you haven't made a lot of connections with these kids, and ask any teacher, relationships with students go a long way. Especially with students who are from a difficult background. They usually compartmentalizing everyone: do you care about them or do you not? If they think you don't, they won't care about you or your requirements either.
     
  30. a teacher

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    Okay, my turn.

    Yes you are right and I am probably being too sensitive about what the students think, and yes I know it's not personal. This is why it has come about, however:

    I have only recently come to the realization that in my school's culture, which is generally fairly slack with low expectations and a lot of underachieving kids, I am seen as a tough teacher. I have heard students say other kids are saying my class is hard or I am not a good teacher. I know those saying that are talking crap and are generally the low-achievers who don't matter anyway, but I still don't want to hear that from anyone. Smart kids really appreciate my class and talk about how slack their other classes are, how kids in other classes misbehave, etc. Also, I had a course I inherited from a teacher who taught it last year in a very slack way. This was partly because the other teacher was a core teacher and had had this art course thrown at them. They didn't care about it and weren't invested, so they just made it a fun and games class. Then students who signed up for it this year found out how different I teach it and started bailing out. Then I have administrators tell me that tons of kids want to get out of the class, parents are calling to complain, etc. I will say that this all happened around a particular course that 1) I inherited 2) I'd never taught before, so I hadn't had the chance to tune and 3) many kids were mis-programmed.

    Nevertheless it opened up an important issue that I had not seen before or avoided: how to run a rigorous art program while still attracting students. So here I am in this incredible bind: I am expected to have fun classes for kids to relax after doing all their "important" work in their core classes, and yet my motivation for teaching is to impart knowledge about something I'm passionate about and that is incredibly important to enriching lives. How dare I ask them to write! I need to make my classes more relatable to kids and as hands-on as possible. Yet I've been teaching a very long time and to be told or made to feel I'm inadequate is incredibly hurtful. I don't need this kind of insecurity at this point in my career. Oh yes, and let's not forget the ever-looming threat that I won't have enough kids signing up for my classes next semester! On top of all the other crap we have to put up with as teachers. Wouldn't you be upset!?

    Regarding all this talk about the five-paragraph essay: First of all two days is plenty. If I give them a week I get the same return rate, so there's no excuse there. Secondly, the kids who are serious about school do the writing assignments 90% of the time. The kids who don't are the kids who wouldn't do a homework assignment if their lives depended on it. Oh yeah, and what about the frequency? About one due every 5 weeks! Still too much?

    Nobody's bothered to ask about the content. They take notes on artworks we view and discuss at length in class. Then they are to take their notes and turn them into a five paragraph essay. This is something that standards for middle school cover. My 9th-12th graders often can't handle it. Should I model it??? And why am I assigning homework? Why am I so "mean"? Maybe because the things they need to do at home can't be done in class for various reasons, yet are very important for their understanding of the material.
     
  31. a teacher

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    And I am making connections with many students and I don't have many discipline problems. That doesn't mean I can't call a kid who has pathetic academic skills what they are: an underachiever.
     
  32. a teacher

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    I forgot to mention something else. They have 8 classes, but one's PE. Their other electives (of which they'll usually have one more) don't assign homework. By all accounts they get little homework from their core classes. So I think it's inaccurate to say they aren't doing my work because they're too busy. It may be the case with some students, but others probably do no homework for anyone, or are disorganized, or have messed up family lives, etc. I think it's for a variety of reasons.

    I do have to revisit my policy on homework. I am thinking of treating it like extra credit, though the kids wouldn't know this. In other words, if you do the homework you can get an A. If you don't however, you won't fail either. Anyway it's not worth getting hung up on this issue. I just need to come to a compromise I can live with. If they can't handle rigor I can't let it cause me stress. They're not my kids!
     
  33. Linguist92021

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    "are generally the low-achievers who don't matter anyway"

    Not to nit-pick, but really? Shouldn't every student matter, not just the smart ones?
     
  34. a teacher

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    They don't matter when it comes to opinion because they don't want to be challenged or their minds are closed to learning. They have the same opportunities as everyone else in my class. They make the choice.
     
  35. gr3teacher

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    They have 8 classes, but one's PE.

    That sounds like you're dismissing PE in the same way that people dismiss your own class...
     
  36. MrsC

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    I'm going to put my parent hat on for a minute. My daughter was a high-achiever in high school. She had an enviable work ethic and was never satisfied with anything less than high As. During her junior and senior years of high school, she regularly spent upwards of 4 hours of homework every evening, and 10+ hours every weekend. Each of her teachers felt that the 1-2 hours of work they were giving was fair, but they never took into account that all of the teachers had the same opinion.

    I've totally revamped my homework policies over the past several years. I decided that if my students weren't doing their homework, giving them more or getting angry didn't solve the problem. I needed to change the way that I was doing things.

    As far as what the students say about other teachers not giving homework, you may need to take that with a grain of salt. Kids love to play teachers against each other--"No one else gives us homework, why do you?"--even if it isn't true.
     
  37. 2ndTimeAround

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    Parent hat here too. My daughter will stay up really late at night in order to complete homework. Only to go in the next morning and find out that half of her class blew it off. Her teacher would then extend the deadline, making the previous night's efforts practically worthless.

    Just because SHE and others in her class got the work done doesn't mean that it was a reasonable amount of work.

    I think a five paragraph essay due in two days is a reasonable expectation for honors students and/or upperclassmen. I would get very few from on-level students.
     
  38. gr3teacher

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    On a similar note, a five-paragraph essay in English class is a very different expectation than a five-paragraph essay in Art (or Science, or Social Studies, or...) class.
     
  39. TeacherGroupie

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    Will you need to model the writing? Better believe it. "Five-paragraph essay" covers a range of possibilities, from a full-on work with citations and bibliography to the wave-in-the-general-direction effort expected for, say, a basic-skills teacher test, which should run around 300 words. If what's been assigned is the former, two days isn't enough, and you'll need to ensure that students know what are and what aren't acceptable sources in art. If what's been assigned is the latter, it would probably make more sense to have students write it in class, possibly preceded by a brainstorming session. In either case they're entitled to a model and a rubric so they have some idea what size and shape of writing you expect.

    It's worth noting that short writing can be incredibly hard. Let me quote philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal, in his Lettres Provinciales (1656-57) no. 16: "I have made this letter longer than usual, because I lack the time to make it short." (Je n'ai fait celle-ci plus longue parceque je n'ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.) One of the hardest essays I ever wrote was two pages (typed, doublespaced, 12pt) on the effects of the barbarian invasions on Roman Gaul, during the Western Civ survey course in my freshman year at a rather selective undergrad college. High school students will need and deserve help in whittling down their topics to something that won't drive them crazy.
     
  40. a teacher

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    Please read carefully. We're talking about workload- of which PE requires none.
     
  41. a teacher

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    As a parent, I often find homework can be a hassle, especially if my chlld puts it off to a time that's inconvenient for the family. However, other teachers are not giving a total of 10 hours a day. It's true that it's hard to know exact details, but knowing the school culture, talking to teachers in the school over time, hearing from students (in contexts where they weren't compelled to play teachers off each other), and even having students write down specifically what kind of homework and how often it's assigned, make me a good evaluator of the situation. I have little doubt that my students don't get much. It's about what they're conditioned for. Your daughter has a teacher for a mother, so she takes school seriously. Is she at a high-performing or low-performing school?
     

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