I've lost all confidence . . .

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Cali1997, Jul 9, 2015.

  1. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Jul 10, 2015

    Since your friend uses this in her classroom, perhaps you could schedule some professional development time and go observe her class for a day or two to see how she does it.
     
  2. GeetGeet

    GeetGeet Companion

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    Jul 10, 2015

    I agree with some of the other responders--I'd drop it if it doesn't work for you or your students. It sounds gimmicky and fluffy and the kids saw through it.
    Instead of losing confidence, I would encourage you to feel proud that you gave this such a sincere try. You may think you wasted time researching--but that is NEVER time wasted. I bet there will be something to take away from the experience that will make you better. As an artist, I have learned that what DOESNT work out for me in an artwork teaches me as much--if not more--than what does work, because it puts me on a surer path to the art I want to make. Teaching is an art--sometimes, you try things, and they don't work. If you KNOW it was a fail, drop it and move on to what was successful--and that will be your "surer path" to a better experience for you and your students next year. :)
     
  3. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Jul 10, 2015


    You tried WBT, and it didn't work for you and your students. Simple, don't use WBT again. I have used WBT with 5th graders, and personally, I wouldn't ever use it if I taught high school. I would especially not use it with the population of students that you describe. No big deal, next year is another year--one that will probably go lots better for you without WBT.
     
  4. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Jul 10, 2015

    In what exactly are you asking them to engage? Discussions? On what? Why should they care? What steps are you asking them to take?

    The problem with engagement is not management it is content. I think the issue here is you tried to solve a problem with the wrong tool. I don't fix computer viruses with a hammer and expect good results!
     
  5. Cali1997

    Cali1997 Rookie

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    Jul 10, 2015

    I want to see more interaction in my classes -- students discussing, presenting, working together, being actively engaged, having fun and not being so serious all the time. I don't know if it's just me or if it's the kids (maybe both?), but honestly, I think a lot of my kids would prefer to take notes while I lecture and then have discussions (in which some of them just quietly listen without really participating), but the things I would like for them to do much more of -- group projects, presentations, peer teaching, -- a lot of them just don't seem to enjoy. And I want to get my kids who never speak up or talk, to talk; most of my quite kids are actually excellent students, so it isn't as if they don't know the content and are thus afraid to try to contribute to the discussions. They just don't speak up.
     
  6. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Jul 10, 2015

    And how are you encouraging that? Are you just asking "anyone have thoughts on that?" Are you choosing randomly to have kids answer or waiting for hands?

    What activities are you doing to encourage kids to be involved? The most disengaged kid will get involved with the right activity. Is the group work you're assigning really collaborative or just individual work done in groups?

    I was one of those excellent students who rarely spoke up. I simply didn't because I didn't need to. I saw no gain in doing so in most of my classes. They need to see value in what you are hoping they will do (which is almost certainly why the WBT stuff didn't take) or they won't bother.
     
  7. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jul 10, 2015

    Ah. Cali1997, I believe your students have learned that school is not a place to risk making a mistake. It's common with that age: they've only really just discovered their dignity, so it's hard to set aside. (A parallel: Potty jokes aren't nearly as funny either before or after one is truly confident in one's control.)

    I'm also going to make a guess that you're young and female and rather earnest, and that you were playing WBT absolutely straight, in a way that led your students to believe you take it at face value. What struck me about WBT's Crazy Professor Reading Game video, with younger students than yours, is how archly everyone is behaving: the teacher's demand that the students really beg to play the game is deliberately cartoony - over the top, complete with Snidely Whiplash inflection and rubbing hands with villainly glee - and the students respond in kind, clearly having fun with it. This is rehearsed behavior, and I don't mean that the video was staged, but rather that everyone involved is steeped in the conventions of the genre through practice.

    If self-irony isn't your metier, that's fine. Self-irony may develop for you later, or it may not; that's also fine. As someone else has pointed out, teaching styles multiply for a reason: there is no style that suits every teacher or even every class. At one point in my career, I was teaching the same content with 18 or more groups per year. Each and every one of the couple-of-hundred resulting groups had a distinct dynamic, though fortunately only one of the couple-of-hundred groups simply didn't respond even to my rapid-fire patter and goofy jokes. That dynamic changed, happily for me, with the addition to the group of someone who didn't just sit there.

    You're clearly very upset by failing with WBT even though you stuck with it determinedly for the entire year. From this I infer that you yourself are uncomfortable with making mistakes or looking "wrong". I empathize, profoundly. But being willing to change what's wrong has a way of giving permission to others to risk being wrong. Give that some thought, please.
     
  8. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

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    Jul 11, 2015

    Hi Cali,

    I'm sorry that this year didn't work well for you with WBT. I am honestly not familiar with WBT. First, stop reading those student comments. You are just making yourself miserable when you do so.

    I've had a rough year, too. We all do. We all find methods and techniques that we are SO excited about and sometimes they are miracles and sometimes they just completely fail. This IS OKAY. It sounds like the demographic of your students just isn't compatible with WBT. This isn't their fault, nor yours.

    Take this summer to relax, and re-evaluate what you want to do with the WBT next year. Maybe it will work for one of your classes? Maybe you can use certain aspects of the program, just not all of it? Don't give you. You've been teaching for 12 years? Don't give up.
     
  9. GeetGeet

    GeetGeet Companion

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    Jul 11, 2015



    I have a feeling your classroom environment might feel a bit to rigid. I used to be sort of rigid in my management because I wanted a certain outcome and/or to prevent behavior problems, but it was exactly this rigidness that made kids act out a bit. Things didn't feel conversational--they felt scripted. You might be having this sort of issue. Perhaps you should encourage more relaxed conversation at certain times, both one-on-one, in small groups, and with the whole class. Get the kids comfortable just being themselves with each other and with YOU, and allow yourself to be more comfortable with this as well. I have found that this is helpful in creating a classroom environment that is collaborative. I admit, on occasion I still have awkward silences when I try to engage the whole class. But not nearly as much as I did back in the day.

    Also, if you feel like something isn't working, it is perfectly ok to just throw up your hands in front of the class and say, "You know what? This is not working. I wanted to get x and y from this experiment, and clearly that isn't happening. How do you think we might be able to reach goals x and y?" I've done it, especially with small groups, and the kids are usually more than happy to have the ice broken. You could ask them to ponder it, write down a few ideas, and then discuss. When this happened last year in my AP class, I think it really brought us together as a group because we all had to work on creating a classroom dynamic. They also learned WHY I was doing certain things, and that made them respect the processes I was trying a little more.

    Just some thoughts....I hope they help!
     
  10. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jul 11, 2015

    As others said, if something is not working, don't use it, regardless if how fabulous other teachers say it is. The only thing that matters is how it's working for you.
    I teach high school at-risk student, and I can't imagine in my wildest dreams to ever use it. There's no way they would buy into even the class/yes part. I did use this in middle school, and I loved it. It even worked for me as a daily sub, in one day, in 3 minutes they learned the class/yes part and it was a wonderful management tool. That doesn't mean my high school students would use it.

    I also feel the same way about Kagan. Last summer i went though a 3 day training, and I was so excited to use it. I knew I had to change some things (sitting in pairs instead of groups) and not even use some features, but I was all fired up at the beginning of the year. Out of 4 classes, 1 was cooperating, 2 was sort of a struggle and 1 flat out refused, it was horrible. By the 2nd week, at the suggestion of my P i abandoned the whole program and everything was smooth sailing.
    I'm kind of dreading thinking about Kagan, because I was told eventually we will have to use it, because since then we had a 2nd teacher in training.
    I feel the same way about Kagan as the OP feels about WBT, and I think my students felt the same way about engagement, discussion, etc. I got them to be engaged and discuss in other ways, but with Kagan, if I have to use it, I feel that they will shut down.
     
  11. Cali1997

    Cali1997 Rookie

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    Jul 18, 2015

    I just wanted to drop back in and thank everyone for all of the wonderful responses. I have completely decided to forgo WBT; I will not be using any elements from this program in the future. I had more or less decided to do so, anyway, but I went to school this week to work in my room and had a chance to talk with my principal. She essentially said, in so many words, that WBT was absolutely a no-go in my classes. I don't know if she has had any contact with parents regarding student schedules or parents requesting that their children not be in my classes. She didn't say one way or the other, but I have a feeling that at least some parents have raised concerns and have been told that my classes would go back to a much more traditional format this year. I'm okay with that.
     
  12. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Jul 18, 2015

    I can be introverted. In high school I definitely was introverted. I was terrified of doing something wrong. I still hate saying the wrong thing!

    I've had classes that don't want to talk. I teach ELA. A lot of what we cover doesn't have a right/wrong answer. Some students HATE that. They don't want to make educated guesses. I try various things. I joke around a bit. I have them do lit circles. I have them write and defend their answers. I include discussion as a grade with a rubric they see ahead of time. But some classes are just tough. I had a class of three a couple years ago. Boy, was that hard!! We did more writing in that class. I also try to do informal presentations. Every Friday is independent reading and I always make a couple kids share what they're reading. I rotate through everyone as much as I can. Ultimately trust seems to be the most important thing. They need to be able to engage with you. It's much easier said than done.

    Good luck this year!
     
  13. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Jul 18, 2015

    This is going to be an awesome year for you. You tried something, and it didn't seem to work out as you had hoped/expected.

    What does that make you? It makes you a good teacher. Innovative, bold, eager to try new things and being willing to forego them if they don't work out.

    I applaud your courage and your dedication.
     
  14. DHE

    DHE Connoisseur

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    Jul 19, 2015

    I really hope that yeo have a better year in 15-16, i hope that you are feeling better about yourself as teacher.
     
  15. GPC0321

    GPC0321 Companion

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    Jul 19, 2015

    Aw, I know what it feels like to invest a ton of time and energy (and even money) into something just doesn't work out. It sucks, but it's still a useful part of being a teacher. Figuring out what doesn't work is as valuable as figuring out what does. Tough pill to swallow sometimes, but we learn from our mistakes.

    Have you talked to your friend about it? See what she's doing differently? As someone said, it could be beneficial to go in and watch one of her classes if you could ever set that up. Even if you're putting WBT aside for now, it might at least ease your mind as to why it didn't work out for you. Also, you mention she teaches 8th and 9th ELA, so I wonder if she has a lot of the same students? And is WBT something those kids were used to from elementary grades and were more accepting of when they reached her classes? And they obviously aren't switching schools between 8th and 9th grades like many students, so maybe they are more accepting of continuing these sorts of things? Are your freshmen the newbies in a high school building, or are you in a school that has lower grades as well? That could make a huge difference.
    Also, it really boils down to the teacher and the rapport with the students. I would think if you had a very outgoing, friendly class full of students who feel comfortable being a bit silly, they would be more game for doing this WBT stuff. The quiet, serious students are going to naturally resist because it just doesn't fit their personalities or learning styles. It may be that your friend naturally inspires her kids to be outspoken and silly, and so this is a great way to channel that exuberant energy into something more focused.

    WBT really does seem suited for either young students or those who have a hard time focusing. Your students are neither. They ARE using their brains, and they don't need to chant and clap to prove that. Socratic seminars, small group discussions, presentations, etc. are great ways to get them to speak up and get engaged. Give them challenges, let them work with peers, and give them some ownership in the class. It takes some time. And for the really quiet ones, use blogging or reflection journals or something. You can find out just how engaged some of your quiet students actually are when you allow them to write instead of making them speak. And the more comfortable they are with expressing themselves in written word, perhaps they'll venture to take the risk and speak out eventually. Encourage them, set them up for success, and watch them emerge a little.

    Good luck to you! You certainly have the "stuff" of a great teacher! :)
     
  16. Cali1997

    Cali1997 Rookie

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    Jul 19, 2015

    This is a wonderful response! Thank you so much. :)

    My friend works in a district about four hours away, so going in to observe her classes wouldn't have really been possible without a LOT of prior planning, and honestly, we could never work our schedules out last year. It would have been a great opportunity, but it wasn't in the cards. I don't think she has all of the same students in 9th grade that she has in 8th grade; maybe some are the same, but I don't think it's exactly the same group that follows her. Her school houses 7th to 12th grade in one building, but the 7th, 8th, and 9th grades are scheduled completely separately from the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades, so it's kind of like a junior high and a high school that operate separately but within one building. There are a lot of students who come from lower income families in her school, and I think they have quite a few issues with things like truancy, student behavior, lack of parent involvement, etc. I know she was having a lot of behavior problems and disruptions -- as were many of the teachers in her school -- and it was suggested by their administration that they try WBT. It seems to have worked very well, and I admit, she has the kind of personality that can really pull it off.

    My school is very different. It is a 9-12 high school in an upper-middle class suburb. Most of our kids will go on to some form of higher education and we don't really have a lot of issues in terms of behavior, apathy, etc. I mean, there are some, but not anything like what my friend has had to deal with. I wanted to try WBT just to boost class participation; a lot of my kids are very quiet and serious. Three of my four classes last year were comprised in large part of gifted and intellectually advanced students, and they were absolutely horrified by WBT. I think I've come to realize that WBT works well, like you said, for young students or those who need behavior modification, but for very intelligent students who are already highly motivated (and by nature usually very serious about their academics) it is a total waste of time. The other methods you suggested seem like they would be far more palatable to students who prefer traditional teaching (and parents and administrators who expect it).
     
  17. GPC0321

    GPC0321 Companion

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    Jul 21, 2015

    Okay, so I went Youtubing "Whole Brain Teaching High School" and found this video...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQd0aZ5RNzw
    ...and now I want to try it too! The teacher in the video is very good at implementing it and the kids seem to enjoy it.
    I definitely couldn't use it all the time, but to review key concepts and vocabulary I think it could be kind of neat. I have the advantage of knowing the kids I'm going to have this year very well.

    I think I'll introduce the concept the first week, teach them how it works, and then let them tell me if they find it useful/fun or not. For some reason I can see my crowd doing this, but I might be in for a reality check when I hit the classroom at the end of next month.

    Anyway, I thought the video above might be interesting to you, Cali1997, and anyone else curious about seeing WBT being used successfully in a high school setting.
     
  18. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    Jul 21, 2015

    I applaud you for being an innovative teacher who wants to try new things. I was excited about WBT after watching some videos, but it just didn't feel like me. I think most teachers try new things each year, so don't be afraid to try something again. You've learned from this experience that no matter how much time you invest in something, it doesn't always translate into success.
     

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