Kids who don't care

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Sshintaku, Mar 8, 2010.

  1. Sshintaku

    Sshintaku Comrade

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    Mar 8, 2010

    For the most part, my students have about the average teenage "caring" level. They understand they have to do work to get the grades, and on occasion, really get personally invested in a unit. This year, I have a double block (2 periods of English, instead of 1) for low level students. And they don't care. At all. They don't care about the material. They don't care if they fail. I have tried EVERYTHING I can think of to get them motivated, and nothing works. I've tried printing weekly grade reports, small prizes for accomplishments, a "star chart," creative poster projects, portfolio projects, group work, calling home, lunch detention, incorporating sports topics, music, and the list goes on.

    Last week, I did an experiment. I gave them the questions and answers to their quiz the day before I was going to give the quiz. I TOLD them, this is your quiz. Study it for tomorrow. 85% of the class failed it. A good portion of them just because they were too lazy to fill in the questions (I know they know what a noun is.)

    I am at my wits end with this class. Do you have any amazing tricks for student "buy in" or motivation?
     
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  3. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Mar 8, 2010

    I suppose a cattle prod and whip would be frowned upon by the P, so that idea is probably out. :rolleyes:

    One thing you could try is sitting at your desk and not saying anything to the students when they come in. Don't take attendance. Don't go over the lesson plan or ask for homework. Just sit there and don't say anything. Eventually, their curiosity will get the better of them and they will ask "What are you doing?" or "What are we going to do today?"

    That's when you can say something like "I don't know. What do you think we should do? I've tried every approach I know and nothing has worked. So, today, just sit in your seats and read your book (or assignment) or sit quietly and don't talk. If you aren't going to give an effort in this class, neither am I."

    Keep in mind I would only suggest this as a very last resort, but it sounds like that is where you're at. :unsure:
     
  4. Mr. A

    Mr. A Rookie

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    Mar 8, 2010

    Telephone calls to parents during work hours, preferably on Friday.

    Call EVERY SINGLE PARENT of kids who are not earning higher than a C. C-minus kids get phone calls. It will take a couple hours but it will pay off the next day.

    What's your D/F rate for the class? In other words, do they know they'll actually fail the class if they fail the tests?
     
  5. Sshintaku

    Sshintaku Comrade

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    Mar 9, 2010

    That passive sitting idea is really might work. It takes drastic things like that to actually get their attention.

    Unfortunately, most of my "problem" students don't have working phone numbers. I've tried calling and either get a machine, or out of order number. They know they're failing and many don't care. I think they don't understand that 9th grade still affects their ability to graduate.
     
  6. midwestteacher

    midwestteacher Cohort

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    Mar 9, 2010

    The problem with this is that those kids with that kind of attitude usually picked it up at home. I have called parents and have had them tell me "Well, I don't know what you want me to do about it." If there isn't any motivation at home, the parents aren't going to be much help.
     
  7. Mr. A

    Mr. A Rookie

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    Mar 9, 2010

    I don't believe that most parents are like this. Even if half of them are, then it's worth the time to give it a try.

    If the parent doesn't care, then his kid is headed for summer school if your tests are weighted appropriately.
     
  8. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Mar 9, 2010

    Try to make the work meaningful to them. Ask them where they see themselves in 5, 10, 15 years and then tie that into what yall are learning in class. Try to bring in people from the areas the students are interested in to talk to them. A teacher did this at my middle school with the at risk students. My husband talked to them about the military. Most thought it was easy to just up and join. My dh really opened the eyes of many.
     
  9. FCLaura

    FCLaura Rookie

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    Mar 10, 2010

    Have you talked to your principal about these kids? He/She may have some ideas or resources. At the very least, if you try the silent treatment or another "extreme" you should probably get approval first or at least let the P know what you're up to in case you do get a parent complaint.
     
  10. Sshintaku

    Sshintaku Comrade

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    Mar 11, 2010

    My principal is kind of at the point where if you can get kids to DO something, then do whatever it is you need to do (besides abuse of course.)

    I did try the silent treatment. I was trying to teach, and they insisted on doing everything but listen, so I sat down on the floor and just stared at them. In about 2 minutes everyone was dead silent and a little freaked out. We had a really good conversation, and it did help a little. We'll see if the results last :)
     
  11. Lotte

    Lotte Companion

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    Mar 15, 2010

    Well done!
    I have the same problem with my students. Coworkers and the principal tell me to show them moives -then hopefully they'll at least stay in the classroom..
    Maybe I'll have to do the same thing as you did..
     
  12. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    Mar 15, 2010

    Very, very, very few kids truly don't care.

    Many pretend not to care because it's a lot better than admitting that they don't know how to do something. They rather look like a thug than to look stupid.
     
  13. kbteach

    kbteach Rookie

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    Mar 15, 2010

    I've been having the same problems, with 5th graders!! Only a handful, but the attitudes and eye rolling are killing me. Today I had the kids work with a partner to create a quiz that I will give them on Thursday. I was surprised at how hard they worked and the good questions they created (they also had to write down the answer and page number). Then I went through the stack of papers and read some of the questions out loud for a review and they did great. I hope they do well when they actually take the quiz. I only had 2 students that didn't follow the directions (written on the board) and didn't finish. When I told them they would be finishing it for homework or recess, they did hurry to make it better. I feel like I have to constantly jump through hoops and think carefully about how I respond to every move they make. At least I have next year's bunch to look forward to!
     
  14. Tesla

    Tesla Rookie

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    Mar 18, 2010

    I have at least a half dozen students in my class who I don't care. They've failed the class at least once before, one or two throw their classwork/notes away at the end of class, and then come to an open-note exam and say they're going to fail or the ones who do keep notes, conveniently forget them on exam day.

    I ask them why they didn't keep the notes and the reply I get is, "I have other stuff to worry about."
     
  15. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Mar 18, 2010

    Actually it is kind of sad when a kid has "other stuff" to worry about than their school work or their friends.
     
  16. Tesla

    Tesla Rookie

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    Mar 18, 2010

    Oh, the other stuff is very obviously their social life, I don't have any worries there. A lot of them also feel the program I teach in (credit recovery) isn't as important as day school.

    I get upset seeing poor exam performance, but have to remind myself that they are taking the class because they didn't take it seriously the first time and the majority of my students are putting in the effort.
     
  17. klondike

    klondike New Member

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    Mar 18, 2010

    This is tough. There is one girl in particular who is very intelligent and does well in school, but refuses to make any effort to understand something that doesn't immediately click for her, all the while refusing to pay attention while I speak to the class. Yesterday, I explained what would be on a quiz I am giving tomorrow. She and a couple others didn't get it. So I went through it again. Everyone except for her understood it. Then she told me that she hated my class because she didn't understand anything. I told her that it had more to do with her lack of attention than her lack of intelligence (which she of course denied), and asked if she wanted me to explain the quiz to her. She said no. I asked her if she thought it was better to fail the quiz than to put in fifteen seconds of effort to understand it. She said yes.

    This is in one of the highest achieving districts in the state, and she has great standardized test scores! I am totally lost on her.
     
  18. Grover

    Grover Cohort

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    Mar 18, 2010

    Almost everyone has something to say. A lot of them don't think it's safe to say it, or that anyone will listen, and many of them aren't very good at articulating what they want to express, but everyone has a story. Get them to tell their stories. Then get them to write them down and read them to each other. Publish an anthology of the best at the end of term. Once they feel they can express themselves, they'll start to care about the mechanics.
     
  19. tcreeley

    tcreeley Rookie

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    Mar 20, 2010

    I find that the kids that don't care often don't have any skills either, and despite their bravado, just can't do the work. Try very concrete and direct assignments. Use immediate bonus points. Kids all want A's. Use A's for instant rewards- first 3 people to get to work etc. Likewise consequences for disruptive non workers are in order. Give 0's for assignments not turned in on time, but then cancel a 0 whenever an assignment is turned in on time. We use academic detentions at our school- it helps with some.
    Good luck.
     
  20. teach42

    teach42 Comrade

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    Have you ever seen the movie "Dangerous Minds?" Obviously you don't want to teach them karate but I think that movie had some great ideas.
     
  21. chessimprov

    chessimprov Rookie

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    From my minimal experience, you have nothing to lose by talking with the parents. Always start off with some positive things, then just be as straight forward as you can about what you saw. Also, take notes that you made a call (or an attempt to call) such and such's parent.

    That way, if you're questioned later, you can say you did or tried to do those things. There's no reason to get angry at parents or the students (excluding physical extremities like bringing in a gun or rape, etc.) Be as polite as possible with good wording, but also stand strong. I've learned this from enough calls of my own. It hasn't been perfect, nowhere near, but I have been learning and not been doing too bad. I have had parents that will tell me that I'm not doing my job or tell me hwo perfect their child is. I just stick with what I can say I see and just let them know briefly that I wanted them to be aware of what I observed. How they choose to interpret that and what they do is out of your hands. You just have to get the information across if you feel the information is important enough.

    I am unlucky that I cannot call parents during classtime now. If I had known that it's not okay to invite parents during classtime, then I would not be in this situation. I could have had more support in this regard, but my situation is such that my uppers are making me learn the hard way. This I think is an unwise move in terms of keeping quality of education as high as possible. I could have been just told once that I don't ask people to come visit the school until my free period or after school. I just gotta deal with it and move on . . .:/
     
  22. Ice Cube

    Ice Cube New Member

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    I definitley understand your frustration about how students just don't seem to care anymore. What's worked for me is getting the students who do have a sense of caring and are interested in school to motivate the class in getting things done. I use them in group settings to lead and try to incorporate group projects where they have to work together. This gets the students engaged and learning rather than me only reaching a few students in class. I also try to show them how interested I am in the material to give it more meaning to them, which includes alot of walking around in the room, using power point presentations that include many visual slides, and show video clips. I've found that in this computer age, students seem to connect better to as much visual learning as possible. For example, I am a history teacher, and to show a realistic approach to the holocaust, we just finished watching the Pianist about a Polish Jew in Warsaw, Poland during Hitler's conquest. Each class didn't want to go their next class and wanted to keep watching the video. If you can connect visual learning to your instruction, you may see progress. I'm finding some success with it.
     
  23. kld

    kld New Member

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    Apr 1, 2010

    I too once taught children who were not motivated. I stopped, gave them a brief "learning styles" test and helped them understand (as well as myself) the myriad of learners that my classroom held. Once I began to incorporate a variety of strategies that not only allowed, but required them to become engaged in the lessons...the entire outlook of my class changed. That was during my time in Texas. I am now working as a Literacy Coach teaching others these same principals. Good Luck...and remember: All students can and will learn, they will simply learn in different ways and at different rates :)
     
  24. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    Apr 2, 2010

    I've got a class like that right now. It's an algebra 1 inclusion class. Out of 24 students, I have 7 IEPs, 3 without IEPs but on medications that suggest they should have an IEP, 2 or 3 more I suspect ADD/ADHD, and 4 ESLs. That's well over half the class.

    On a good day, 20 of them will actually show up and several have been taken to court over truency issues.

    I post grades in my classroom weekly and going into midterm the class average was a 64 (failing.) Mostly because the ones who were absent never came in to make up tests or quizzes (which they can come before school, after school, or at any time during the school day to do a makeup.) And you can forget about them doing any homework.

    I sent half the class to the gym one day while the half with zeros stayed to do make ups. It brought the average up to a 75, but cost me an entire day of instruction.


    I have called every parent and several of my worst performers have GREAT parents. The one with the worst score in the entire class is the son of one of our middle school teachers.
     
  25. deserttrumpet

    deserttrumpet Comrade

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    Apr 4, 2010

    For the last four years I have been teaching a class that is defined by low achieving undermotivated kids. I feel like I have a handle on it this year. I run the class more like an elementary class than a high school class and slowly (very very slowly) add more responsibility.

    I have folders for in class work. The first few months I hand back all work and have students fix their mistakes if they scored lower than a B. This is a huge hassel, but is worth it. I stop doing this after a while because they need to learn to do it right the first time. But, this has helped with the kid who writes "IDK" on half of the questions.

    For the first semeter I do drills on vocab. I will spend a day (40 minutes) teaching my students new vocab and quizing them over old vocab - all verbally. I tell they that they do not have to write anything down. We recite as a class and individually. I emphasize that in class they are alwowed to talk (just on my conditions).

    If the class has a lot of trouble I will break my lesson down into 10 minute chuncks and then switch activities, even if they are not finished. So, instead of taking a day to do one activity we will do three activities in three days (a bit of each activity each day).

    I weight my gradebook so that I can make all assignments worth a lot of points. I try to make most assignments 100 points. Since my gradebook is weighted it doesn't matter if is 100 or 10 points, but the kids don't know this. 100 points sounds like a lot and they are more likely to do it.
     
  26. eddygirl

    eddygirl Companion

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    Apr 5, 2010

    I have a colleague who will call the parent (at work or on his/her cell phone) right in the middle of the class! He tells the parent what the issue is (no homework, not paying attention, etc.) then hands the phone to the student. He waits while the student explains to the parent...he says it works wonders!
     

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