math teachers: failing students?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by raneydae, Oct 18, 2008.

  1. raneydae

    raneydae Companion

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    Oct 18, 2008

    When I was in school, I made all A's and B's and I would have been horrified to make a C or lower. So I've had to come to terms that not all of my students are going to be like me. However, I don't know what to think of all these students that consistently make D's or F's on my tests. How much of this should I attribute to me as a teacher and how much should a attribute to lack of studying or care?

    I know that math is hard for many students. I try my best to explain everything clearly. I use visuals. I post the class notes on my website for them to go over if they didn't get it in class. I offer times they could come to me for tutoring. I tell them what is going to be on the test and what they need to study. I've emailed parents about tutoring times offered by the school. I give them options of doing a retake if they bomb a test.

    They seem to understand it during class. But half my class still makes D's or F's on the test! Is there something else that I should be doing? Or do I eventually have to realize that I cannot force a kid to apply themselves to learning if they don't want to? I know I'm going through the material fast - but I feel like I have so much I'm pressured to get through by the end of the year, and I can't slow down much more than I am now.

    What do I do about these students??
     
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  3. Mathfan

    Mathfan Rookie

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    The first year I taught 8th grade math I was having the same problem. Students who normally get D's and F's have been getting these grades for years, so by high school, they are not going to do much to change. They won't go to tutoring, they don't know how to read notes, they won't study, and most of the times they won't practice or do homework.

    I believe that many of them believe at this point that they are not good at it and that is the reason of their failure in math. I have even encountered many adults saying that they were not good at math and there was no point in learning algebra because there's no need for it in real life. Anyhow, I'm not going into many details about this conception, but I do believe it affects us, math teachers in the classroom.

    This last year, I tried something different. I started teaching concepts at a slower pace and stopped assuming that they mastered their basic concepts, such as times tables and fractions. So, every time I teach a new concept, I do a quick review of the basic math concepts they will need. I also brought the teaching to their level. If I had to spend a week teaching how to work formulas before teaching volume and the pythagorean theorem, I would do that. In other words, I stopped focusing so much on the material I had to cover to prepare them for standardized testing and focused more on the students learning the content better. Even if that meant I wasn't going to cover much.

    The way I look at it, it is better for them to have learned something, and learn it well, than to not learn anything at all because I'm going too fast. They also apply themselves more if they feel they can be successful at it.

    You may also want to try diagnostic testing before each lesson to see where the students are and then create lessons from there.
     
  4. teachin4ever

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    Raneydae, it seems to me like you're doing everything you can. You're offering after school tutoring, you let them retake tests if they fail, you prepare them for the tests and quizzes by telling them what to study.

    I think as a teacher when students are failing, you do have to look at your teaching and truly ask yourself if you're doing the best job you can to teach these kids. But if students aren't studying, they aren't asking questions when they don't understand something, they aren't taking advantage of tutoring that's available....there's not much more you as a teacher can do. It gets to a point when the students have to take responsibility for the grade their getting in your class.

    I teach middle school math and am in the same boat you're in. Quite a few of my students are getting D's and F's and for a while, I was really hard on myself. I kept thinking it was something I was doing wrong. I even doubted myself as a math teacher. I ended up talking with my AP, who was the math teacher last year for these kids, to get some insight into what I was doing wrong. Were my tests too tricky, was I moving through the material too fast, did I really just stink at teaching?

    Turns out, quite a few of my kids are super low in math. I checked out their previous math grades on their report cards and their MEAP scores. I still felt bad, but I realized that as a teacher, you can only do so much to teach these kids. There comes a time when you have to stop blaming yourself and realize that if they don't want to learn, no amount of visuals or extra help will get them to understand.

    As for having to cover all the material, I talked to my P and was told that the most important thing is to make sure my kids are mastering what I'm covering. If that means taking 2 or 3 days to teach one lesson, so be it. She didn't care if I got through the entire book in one year, she cared that learning was taking place.

    Anyway, not sure how much advice is in this response, but I just wanted to you know that you're not alone! :)
     
  5. raneydae

    raneydae Companion

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    Mathfan and teachin4ever - thank you so much for your responses! I would really love to slow down my pace, but I was told that I need to cover the entire book in time for testing and that I have to stay on pace with the other Geometry/Algebra classes (taught by different teachers). But I agree that at this pace they aren't really mastering anything!

    Do you guys know of any ways I cover all the things I'm supposed to, but still have time to go over all the concepts they need to master first? Or should I talk to the math department about being able to slow down the pace? As a new teacher, I don't feel like I have much clout, so I guess I'm afraid to suggest anything like that.
     
  6. njmarketing07

    njmarketing07 Rookie

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    Oct 18, 2008

    Raneydae,

    I think you have a very tough issue here. Looking at the students who are failing is a good observation, but you have also look at the positives. You should ask yourself, how many students actually get the subject, your methods, and are studying? If you find the majority are failing and do not understand the lesson, then maybe you should try a different approach, but don’t forget about those who are succeeding.

    In some of my graduate classes I am taking, they taught us to look at this type of situation in multiple ways. You can ask the kids about them having problems. You should check with other teachers to see if the students who are failing are failing other classes too. If this is the case, there may be an outside problem that should be addressed. If not, and it is just a problem in math, and then you should ask the other math teachers about these students. If the others tell you, these students just aren't good in math or that they always said "When am I going to need this?" then those other teachers were unable to reach those children. Don’t give up and continue if the classroom doesn’t follow, it will only make it harder later on.

    I think you should try a different way of teaching the subject each day. Not to say do something completely different, but maybe use different examples, styles, and have the students teach you about something. I would have some of the kids who are failing tell you about their favorite things. You should learn more about your students so you can better understand how to teach to them. Then take that knowledge and somehow relate it to math. Let's say one student loves basketball. You can have a number of different classes about the size of the hoop, the shape of the ball, the distance and percentages of shots made, there are endless possibilities here. If you can associate that example with one student and have them be engaged, they are going to learn the material. Remember Concepts first then Material to follow.

    Also remember these two quotes.

    “Success Breeds Success” Meaning, children who can say “I can do this!” are going to have a huge impact on other students wanting to succeed too.

    And

    “All kids can learn” If you ever give up on a child and think they cannot learn, you are setting them up to fail. This may be the reason why they are having trouble now…other teachers may have set them up this way.

    If you can remember those and really try and understand what kids can do, then you can get anyone involved and everyone will benefit.

    Good Luck!
     
  7. robinsky

    robinsky Rookie

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    I have this issue, too, and my problem is how to differentiate enough. It would be great to slow down enough to teach those who need it the basics, like adding and subtracting fractions, which they should have learned years ago. But some kids DID learn it, and they are super bored when I spend any time reteaching something they learned in 4th grade (I teach 7th). I am available after school, and one or two take me up on that, but most of the ones who really need it do not come. It's a real problem because there is no way that a kid who doesn't understand the prerequisites can keep up with the 7th grade material, but the kids who DO understand it deserve to be learning what they're supposed to be learning!
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 18, 2008

    OK, for starters: you're teaching geometry. That's the course with the highest failing rate in my school, every single year. It beats out Calculus and Physics. Some kids find it HARD because it's a different kind of course. So keep that in mind.

    That said, you're right-- half the class with D's or F's is probably to high. If half your class is in danger of failing, then you're not reaching a lot of kids.

    Talk to one of the good math teachers in your school-- you know who they are. Ask him or her stop by and observe your class. Maybe he or she can give you some insight.

    Best wishes!
     
  9. Brendan

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    I teach CP Geometry and I spend a day before we start each chapter going over things "they should know" suprisngly my grades are much higher than the other classes (we use the same in every class tests; to my dismay, but I do it).

    I also spend half the class reviewing homework, I put the answers up on the smartboard and have kids put the tough problems on the board and I go over them. Some kids think this review is "booring", but I think homework review is important.

    I also give FREQUENT quizzes (usually twice a week) sometimes I let them use their binders on these. These let me know if they are getting things, BEFORE the unit test. I find these helpful.
     
  10. Luv2Learn

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    :thumb: Great quotes and I definitely agree!

    I understand that schools need to get through curriculum, but considering that this is only going to compound the problems this class is having, I think other measures need to be taken.

    If the students are having such a problem now at the beginning of the year, by the end of the year I think the damage may be harder to reverse.
     
  11. Mathfan

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    This is a tough situation to be in. I think being so test-driven is the toughest part of our job. I would advice you to talk to your principal and explain that going too fast is not helping the kids understand these concepts and it's only going to make it worse if you continue like this.

    Another advice would be to pick certain topics from the curriculum that you want to cover in depth and just do a quick review with other topics so at least they are exposed to most of the material. Your tests can have about 80% of problems from the topic you spent a lot of time teaching so everybody gets a chance to earn a least a C and the other 20% can be from areas that were not covered in detail and even include problems for extra credit.

    For example, in a chapter that may cover integers as well as vocabulary for rational and irrational numbers, I would focus on making sure students know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide integers very well because this is a skill they will need and I may spend only one day or even half a class on teaching how to recognize rational and irrational numbers.

    At this point, pick what you think is essential for them to know to get them ready for a test and leave some things out. I got great grades in math and I don't remember having to recognize rational from irrational numbers until I had to prepare a lesson to teach it.
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    They know what they're doing in class, but bomb the tests.

    - Is it possible that your tests are too long? Are they finishing the tests with time to go over their work?

    - Is the level of difficulty on the test comparable to that of the classwork? Does the level of difficulty match what's on the homework?

    -How do they do on homework? Do they seem to understand the problems when they do them independently at home? Think about this: on your next test, tell them that 50% of the points will be directly from the homework. Go over any problem they request, but don't give any hints as to which problems you choose (and choose different ones, but of comparable difficulty, for each class.) See how they do.

    -How frequent are your tests? Sometimes at this level, waiting for the end of a chapter is simply too long. Think about testing every 2 weeks or so, even if it means a test in the middle of a chapter. You may find they do a whole lot better when the material is broken down into little chunks.
     
  13. Druin

    Druin Rookie

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    I also teach Geometry and a couple of years ago I decided to try "guided notes". Overall, it has greatly influenced both my pass rates and my End-of-Course exam scores. Before, students struggled with copying down a picture correctly and labeling it. Now, since the figure is on their notes, they do a much better job. Also, every homework sheet, quiz, and test has a "previous knowledge" section. I also have daily warmups that review old material and weekly "review quizzes" that can be anything we've already covered. Feel free to contact me if you want copies of anything I have.
     
  14. mandagap06

    mandagap06 Devotee

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    If you really are like you say you are than thank you for being an AWESOME teacher! I would have loved to have you as a math teacher in highschool. I had a crummy math teacher who could have cared less about her students all but 1 yr. My college math teacher is awesome though.
     
  15. mandagap06

    mandagap06 Devotee

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    This line of thinking is a line of thinking I wish all math teachers had. Especially as someone who has trouble in math and is in college math now.
     
  16. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    I think guided notes are useful...I use them at times, too. But I worry that when I use them I am giving my students "too much" help...that they are not going to be able to take notes on their own when they need to, that they will not be able to draw the picture and label it when they need to...
    Math is very content and detail oriented - every little thing "counts." If students don't "learn everything," not just the concepts that we decide to spend time on, then they will be at a disadvantage later. How do we decide what we are to spend lots of time on, and what to not teach as much or as well? Concepts that don't seem as important (or that kids are tired of or that people want to get over with so they can get on to "more important stuff such as algebra"!) in 6th, 7th or 8th grade turn out to be very important in later math classes (my most pressing example at the moment is fraction operations!)
    How do we make sure that our classes "learn it all" yet not "lose" kids in the process because there is just too much to learn for some kids? Is it that too may kids now are taking maths that they aren't ready for and have no "talent" for (yes, I know I'm opening a can of worms here!) and frankly don't want to take, because we're pressing them to do so? The "everyone must take algebra because studies say that those who take algebra are more successful in college" way of thinking? That's putting the cart before the horse - like saying that those who wear glasses read more (which came first?)
    In math, and in school in general, we're trying to do too much, and the "normal" kids are under pressure to do too much. Because of this, their grades are or should be (rightly) dropping, and because we can't "cover" as much as we used to due to, among other things, schedules that aren't as effective for math study and more unqualified and/or unwilling students in our classes, teachers are being castigated and blamed by everyone from society to parents to administrators (themselves under the gun - I have a lot of sympathy for them!) In self defense and desperation, content is being watered down and grades are being enhanced. We're told it's up to us to make sure "No Child Is Left Behind" when it's an impossible task. Teachers are leaving the profession in droves becasue they are principled people who keep trying hard to do that impossible task, or being driven out because they took a stand against watering content or enhancing grades. Teachers are now under an inordinate amount of pressure, because of their principled choices, from those who just want parents and students to be "happy". Educators are told to have "high standards" - but will only be supported in those high standards as long as they don't make waves with the kids or parents - the "not my kid" principle.
    Why do we - even we teachers - keep blaming teachers if kids can't or won't learn (Quote from njmarketingo7: "“All kids can learn” If you ever give up on a child and think they cannot learn, you are setting them up to fail. This may be the reason why they are having trouble now…other teachers may have set them up this way. " WHAT?? Maybe the kid isn't ready to learn then, or has terrific home problems, or isn't capable of learning in a classroom of 30-40 kids, of learning those particular concepts at that particular time is his/her life - why is assumed that the TEACHER set them up to fail? All kids can't learn at the same rate in the same class at the same time...and since we are in classrooms with 30-40 students in them, and the classroom is not an individual tutoring/teaching situation - how can we be everything to everyone at all times? And why do we keep trying to believe that we can?
    Maybe it's time we stood up for ourselves and our standards...maybe we can start a movement to say that if the expectations are clear, the lesson plans are valid, the teaching methodology is sound (I know, I know, who decides what "clear" and "valid" and "sound" are??), and opportunities for extra help exist, for a classroom of 20 - 30 - 40 students, that if a student does not do well, it could be partially or completely his/her fault (another "fightin'" word, "fault"!), not the fault of the teacher or the school, and that the student simply needs to take the class over until he/she passes it before he/she goes on to the next level? And if they don't do their homework they don't get to turn it in late, or they don't get to automatically retake tests when they don't do well (what was the state that mandated this just recently?) With some teacher discretion, of course, for extenuating circumstances. And that if they don't behave, it's out of the room - or the school - until they are ready and willing to do so, and they are responsible for the work they missed while dismissed...yes, I know it's tough to make up work, but since they chose to misbehave, they chose to have to study extra hard.
    Teachers aren't responsible for all the ills of the world. We simply cannot be all things to all students. Some kids really can't learn some things, for reasons including basic intelligence (another "fightin' word"!) and the constraints of the school system as it exits now. Teachers need to make a stand on this...we do so very much good for so many students, but we can't do it all. We need to draw the line between enabling, and giving kids reasonable opportunities to learn. Whether students CHOOSE to take advantage of those opportunities or not is their CHOICE, not teachers' personal responsibility.
    At what point will we insist that our kids - and parents - realize the incredible opportunity they have for an education in this country? That students have to choose to take advantage of that opportunity, and that they won't get high grades without earning them? At what point will we thousands of teachers draw that line...after we quit in frustration, or are dismissed for having the courage of our convictions in holding that line? Or while we are still in the classroom trying to help kids?
     
  17. Lives4Math

    Lives4Math Comrade

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    My problem seems to be the opposite! My students bomb the classwork, but do really well on the tests. I have come to the conclusion that in my case it's because I ask them to do all of the work and get the correct answer on the classwork, but the tests are all multiple choice (to get them used to the way their state tests will look). They have learned how to get rid of choices and pick the best one so they may not even know how to do the work but still do pretty well on the tests!!
     
  18. TeacherGroupie

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    I think that requiring that ALL of the tests exactly mimic the state-test format is colossally short-sighted. Much better to introduce students to a variety of formats and to the content and skills they need to function confidently with ANY of them.
     
  19. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I agree.

    Lives4Math, why not have a Part I-- multiple choice, and a Part II-- longer problems where they have to show the work-- on your tests? They'll have to demonstrate the test taking skills you're trying to intill, as well as the mathematical ability to actually do entire problems.

    Trust me, sixth graders can pick up on multiple choice pretty quickly. They don't need THAT much practice!
     
  20. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Sounds good to me, Alice.

    CindyBlue, let me respond to you beginning with a huge hug. Trying to get people to use their brains when they really don't want to is an incredible challenge. Furthermore, you will get no argument whatever from me on the proposition that NCLB as written contains stupidities - stupidities that pale in magnitude next to the stupidities in the local implementations (of which requiring that every classroom assessment exactly mimic the format and feel of the state test is among the foremost).

    The rub, however, is that NCLB came into being to fill a felt need. There certainly have been (and, I fear, still are) schools in which groups of children or even the lot of them are expected not to succeed: schools in which the facilities and resources devoted to classrooms and texts and libraries and so on shout out to everyone that the children there are children who don't matter. And there certainly have been teachers who hate and aren't good at some of the subject matter they're teaching. Now few of us are skilled enough actors and actresses to be able to teach something we loathe and fear - be it math or history or writing or science or even test taking - without our students somehow picking up on our reluctance. No scripted program in the world is good enough to mask that. And I'm afraid that enough politicians and pundits and members of the general public have had enough encounters with teachers who were underskilled or (if I may coin a word) under-enthusiastic that when it is suggested that the problem is epidemic and that there's a magic-bullet fix for it, the claims resonate with them and they don't stop to examine either the diagnosis or the proposed cure.

    In other words, this is one of those classic and regrettable situations: good schools and teachers now - the teachers who give their best both inside and outside their areas of expertise - are obliged to suffer for the inattention or the misdeeds of some of those who have preceded them. Is it fair? Not at all. But it's reality.

    I wish I had a magic-bullet fix for the magic-bullet fix, not to mention a magic-bullet fix for your unengaged students, CindyBlue. But I don't, and I'm not sure either one exists.
     
  21. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    That is probably the best written analysis of the problems in current American education that I've ever read.
     
  22. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I'd be blushing with pleasure at your praise, Alice, if I weren't too busy being angry that the analysis is so apt. There are times when I purely hate being right, and this is one of them.
     
  23. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Yeah, I know what you mean. It's accurate, more's the pity.

    As much as most teachers hate all that NCLB has brought on, it was an attempt to address a serious problem in American education-- the fact that not all kids were getting educated. The fact that the answer didn't fix the problem is a shame, but the problem has been there and continues to exist.

    If throwing money at education were the answer, our problem would be solved. Someone somewhere would find the money, and we would have the educational system our kids deserve.

    One of the most fascinating reports I've ever read was the 1983-ish report "A Nation at Risk." It was commissioned by the Federal Government (sorry, I forget just which department.) It includes a line something like this: "Should a foreign government ever impose upon us the incredibly mediocre educational system we currently have, we would consider it an act of war." (Again, I've paraphrased here. )

    That was twenty years ago!!! Many of the members of this forum weren't even in school at that time!!! And America blithely ignored the report, or tried to put bandaids on the hemmorage that we call our educational system. We look for quick fixes, or compare things with the "good old days" and look for someone to blame.

    Yet we still have teachers who can't spell and have an appalling lack of basic knowledge, we have kids who miss days on end and no one notices, we have schools that are so violent they need metal detectors, we have teachers teaching without textbooks or enough desks... and we wonder why our kids are being outpaced by the rest of the civilized world?? It's an easy answer-- we need to define the problems and make solving them a priority.

    OK, sorry for the hijack.
     
  24. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    (chuckling, more than a little wryly)

    No, you're not.
     
  25. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    :eek:

    OK, you caught me. This is one of those topics that get me going.

    But I do apologize to the OP who wanted answers to a problem, not Alice's diatribe on American Education.
     
  26. TeacherGroupie

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    We're busted together, then, Alice. (I can think of lots of worse things to be busted on and LOTS of worse people to be busted with.)

    So what do you think are the root causes of lack of motivation, and how do you deal with it in your classroom? I realize it's probably a different issue for you - your school does, after all, have the option of throwing the slackers out - but, knowing you, I can't envision you just punting this to the administration and, knowing how long you've been at this and how well, I can't imagine you not having encountered something of the sort.
     
  27. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I turned 50 last week, and you're the first person (besides my 10 year old son) to call me old!!!!

    How to deal with "slackers" is one of that killer questions. The overwhelming majority of kids don't WANT to fail. They would be happier with mom and dad (and Mrs. A.) off their backs, not nagging them to improve their grades. So sometimes it's a matter of finding out the problem with each individual.

    Some kids slack because they're so used to failing math that they don't know anything different. They learned early on that they "couldn't do math" (ridiculous, I know. EVERYONE can do math to varying degrees. Would the same kids admit that they "couldn't do money"????) But it becomes an easy out for them-- they can't do it, they know they can't do it, so there's no point in investing any time in trying. That way, no one has to be disappointed when they fail.

    Others face a real handicap in that they're sorely lacking in basic skills. It's a real killer to find kids who, at the age of 14, have no clue of how to take notes. They constantly ask "should I write this down??" (Hint: if it's on the board, that's a guarantee that it needs to be written down.)

    (One thing I work on a LOT with all my kids, regardless of grade, is how to take notes in math. Some have never had a math notebook that contained NOTES that told them how to do the problems. They think a math notebook should be an endless list of problems, one after the other, with no hint as to what the teacher said as the problems were put on the board.) But kids who don't know how or what to study or how to take notes are slackers, simply because they need someone to give them a little order.

    Some kids simply have no ambition. They suffer from a terminal case of "when am I going to use this?" and need to see that there's a world bigger than the one they are envisioning for themselves. (To be fair to the kids I teach, I haven't met lots of these. The kids in my college prep school tend to see at least college on the horizon. But I know they're out there.)

    Some kids are slackers because they suffer from Peter Pan syndrome. They've heard for so many years how darn cute they are, that they don't realize it's no longer true. It's time to grow up, stop the games, and be a big boy or girl. They think they have all the time in the world before "THE FUTURE" catches up to them. Then they're shocked when the SATs arrive and they don't do as well as they had imagined they would.

    Some have simply never heard the word "NO!!" applied to them; "no" is for other kids. Mommy and daddy are convinced that their little angel has a delicate ego which must be protected, so they hover just barely out of sight and rush in to handle each bump along the road.

    It's hard, because there is no one-size-fits-all explanation for why kids don't do well.
     
  28. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Oct 20, 2008

    (with injured dignity)

    Did not! Did not either call you old!

    That would make me even older. And we are so not going there.

    But you can't deny that you've got experience and wisdom on your side - and if you try, the rest of your post gives away the game. That's a really good analysis of possible reasons that basically good kids screw off.
     
  29. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    Oct 24, 2008

    TeacherGroupie, I needed that hug! Thank you!!!
    I agree that NCLB came into being to fill a need, and I do agree with the principle. What I don't agree with is the presumption that teachers are responsible for kids' learning. KIDS are responsible for kid's learning! And both kids and parents are responsible for kids' self esteem. The teacher's job is to give them the best opportunity possible for them to learn, within the constraints (can you tell I've been teaching linear programming lately <grin!>) of the system and of our own limitations. As is true in all aspects of society, if it's someone else's fault, it can be your excuse to blame, and your excuse not to do what should be your job/part. Kids and parents and society are taking up this song enthusuastically - it's the schools' fault, it's the teacher's fault, that kids aren't learning.
    NO, it's NOT. While there must be some "bad" teachers, I haven't met any lately. Even if a kid has a "bad" teacher, though, there is so much opportunity to learn via the internet (almost universally available in libraries) and books if one has the drive to learn. The opportunites are there. And there are very few "bad" teachers!
    And as long as we (teachers and administrators and schools) will accept the blame, we will be blamed. Teachers are very giving types of people - they want kids to learn and grow and succeed. They WILL accept the blame - and that's the problem. If we could only band together and say as a profession that it's time that some limits were set, such as decent behavior is mandatory or kids will be immediately expelled - yes, expelled - from school, whatever the reasons for the bad behavior, so they aren't interfering with the opportunity for others who want to learn, to learn, then there might begin to be a change for the better. That kids will be given the opportunity to learn, and if they choose not to do the assignments, and choose not to study for tests, then they will earn the grade that reflect what they know and they have only themselves to blame if they don't like it. That they may not have the ability to learn - yes, ability - and if that is the case, then they will still earn the grade that reflects what they know. That anyone can retake any class until they succeed, no matter how long it takes them to learn it, and will not be passed on until they can demonstrate that they know the material. That kids who are expelled can come back to school at any age when they are ready to behave and study, and if they come back and show that they aren't ready to behave and study, they will be expelled until such time as they are - immediately, period, no excuses. That education is a privilege, not a right - yep, NOT a right. That teachers will be expected to work reasonable hours, that they will be treated as the professionals that they are, and with respect, and will have the tools and supplies and adminstrative and disciplinary support that they need to do the job. When will we "wise up" and realize that we are not "doormats" and we don't have to solve every student's problems? That a "free and appropriate public education" cannot include being all things to all people, and solving every kid's learning problems - that we can and will address as many different learning modalities as possible, and provide as much help as possible, but that we WON'T be held responsible if, after all our efforts, if they don't learn due to circumstances beyond our part of the learning process? Heresy to say this in today's politically correct climate, I know, but it's the truth, and good teachers are leaving the profession every day because society and government is holding them responsible for EVERYBODY'S part in education, instead of just their own. We cannot continue to take the blame...and we should not.
    (Note: You might be interested in reading a couple of pages from the book "Setting Limits in the Classroom", by R.J. Mackenzie. The pages are in the chapter "Solving Problems with Homework", and in my book they're on pages 229 and 232, figures 13A and 13B respectively, called "Homework System in Balance" and "Homework System Out of Balance." They provide a good idea of what I also feel is everyone's job!)
     
  30. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 24, 2008

    THAT made me laugh!!!!
     
  31. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    Oct 24, 2008

    Glad to give a giggle to a math teacher (<smile!>)
     
  32. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Oct 24, 2008

    I tend to disagree. In my 20 years, I have seen AWEFUL teachers. I can think of about 10 AWEFUl ones in my school alone.
     
  33. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I don't think that the blame game is productive.

    I've had lots of kids sit through my class. The kids who get the A's think I'm wonderful-- clear and funny and a great teacher.

    The kids who fail.... well, let's just say that their opinion is a bit different.

    But both kids were sitting side by side, hearing the same explanations, seeing the same problems.

    Sometimes "good" and "awful" are in the eye of the beholder, you know???

    But I do think that one of our responsibilities as teachers is to reach our kids on the level they're at, and to bring them up to a higher level. If a huge portion of our class is struggling, then we haven't done that. We need to reach lower to reach them or be more realistic in our expectations, or something.

    If nothing else, having a huge portion of the class fail only feeds into the myth that you as a teacher "can't teach." So the kids believe it's your fault, not theirs, and they absolve themselves of any responsibility for their own learning. It becomes a vicious downward spiral.

    I'm not suggesting that each class mimic a bell curve (my kids would DIE if 66% of them got C's!!!) but I do think we have to do something about classes where failing is the norm.
     
  34. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Oct 24, 2008

    I have seen a math teacher give homework before giving a lesson on the material every night. That is never effective. I am not trying to place the blame, but I think sometimes teachers need to take the blame when there teaching methods are uneffective. I have seen a History teacher in my department give 1 test per term for his history class worth 45% of the kids' grades, that is not fair for the students. This teacher and I will be having a test on Monday as even in college no assignment will influence your grade by such a large factor.
     
  35. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 25, 2008

    I know what you mean.

    As much as the responsibility for LEARNING rests squarely on the shoulders of the students, the responsiblities for TEACHING and PROPER EVALUATION rest with us. And teachers who don't take their part of the bargain seriously make the rest of us look bad. Worse, they turn kids off to school and to learning.
     
  36. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Oct 25, 2008

    This happens in elementary, also. I work with a teacher who ASSIGNS, but doesn't first INSTRUCT.
     

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