Overcoming a Rough Year

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Madrone, Aug 2, 2018.

  1. Madrone

    Madrone Rookie

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    Aug 2, 2018

    Hi! I haven't posted in a very long time, but I am looking for some feedback.

    I teach high school (mostly seniors, now) and, last year, started at a new district. It was a very disappointing year. No violence or real terrible behavior, but apathy like I have never faced before. Many days it felt like I could have not even been in the room and it would have made no difference. Discipline/management mostly involved flagrant disregard of rules and droves of missing assignments. I tried choice projects, self-paced with workshopping, small chunking more challenging texts - no dice. It is the first year since my first year that I felt like I made no positive impact at all. I know it is not entirely true, and intellectually, I understand that, but I cannot shake the dread as the new year approaches.

    I want a fresh start! Does anyone have suggestions?

    Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2018
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 3, 2018

    Wine helps
     
  4. Madrone

    Madrone Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2018

    Indeed it does!
     
  5. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    Aug 3, 2018

    My heart goes out to you.
    Sometimes we just have to keep reminding them that they matter, and that they were born to do great things, and that we want to help them achieve their dreams and just hope and pray that the seeds we plant take root in the hearts of those students.
    We are farmers. Sometimes our crop doesn't manifest at the end of our growing season.
    I love this Scripture, "And let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not." Even if you are not a person of Bible faith, this axiom is such a truth that I have seen during my career. Hang in there! Maybe you will see a bumper crop this year!
     
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  6. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Aug 3, 2018

    I taught Grade 7 last year, but had a similar experience. With a few of my students, nothing in my extensive bag of tricks made a lasting difference and I was pretty demoralized by the end of the year. I've taken the month of July (we finished right at the end of June) to take care of myself.

    One of the things I love about this profession is that every September is a new start. We can leave the negative behind and focus on the new students in front of us.
     
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  7. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Aug 3, 2018

    It’s very hard to compete with the draw of technology, which has in turn shortened attention spans. The difference between my first years of teaching and my last were significant in terms of attention and even respect. Get phone pockets for your room, number your desks, and make students “park” their devices. My friend takes roll that way—no phone in the pocket, you’re marked absent. She had a sub who was astounded to see kids parade in and automatically put their phones away!
     
  8. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    Aug 5, 2018

    I think a reflection and professional development on what you could do to improve behaviour will make a tremendous difference. It doesn’t matter the age group, behaviour management and classroom management is the cornerstone to everything. Without those two things, good pedagogy loses its effectiveness if you can’t implement it. And when the new year starts, go with a positive mindset. You can’t change the year that’s gone, but with a new set of students, it’s a clean slate and a new beginning.
     
  9. JimG

    JimG Comrade

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    Aug 5, 2018

    Does she have backing from admin to minimize her liability if a student’s phone goes missing?
     
  10. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Aug 5, 2018

    I think you are asking the right questions as challenging as they are. I would separate your concerns into 2 different categories. The ones that are external (not doing assignments, disregard for rules) and internal (apathy). The first one you have a lot more control over than the second, so I would start there. First step, make sure you hold seniors accountable for all work and rules that are important to you. Be ready with what you will do if they choose not to do it. Second step, would be to find ways to get them a bit motivated to follow these. Instead of dealing with low quality work turned in--might want to say 3 quality assignments turned in earns either a free pass from 4th assignment or more choices with 4th assignment.

    As far as the internal goes, I think we can learn a trick that many TV and movies use. How many times do you watch a mediocre show on Netflix, Hulu, or cable but it ends in a really suspenseful moment? You can't wait to watch the next episode. I find this can work with students. Leave the classroom with a cliff hanger where they are really curious to see what happens next. The same thing, make that 1 minute anticipatory set at the beginning awesome as much as you can.

    High schoolers are so poker faced. You can do something amazing and they will act like it is so boring. They won't show the truth in front of their peers. I think there were some great scenes in Breaking Bad that showed this with Walter White's amazing Science experiments and the students acted like they were watching paint dry. Don't put too much stock in their expressions, I usually gave out private surveys when dealing with teenagers to get a better grip on how they felt about something done in class.

    Good luck!
     
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  11. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Aug 5, 2018

    I like it, though believe it or not I do know a number of teenagers who don't have cell phones. What does/would she do if a student didn't have a phone to park?
     
  12. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Aug 5, 2018

    This is completely an elementary teacher tip, but what I thought about was rewards. It's not something high schoolers should need, and it shouldn't be something you need to do, but it sounds like you don't have a lot to lose. If I had a class where maybe 5/30 students turned in a homework assignment each week, I'd start nonchalantly bringing in a box of cookies or something. Turn in your homework, take an Oreo? In elementary you'd make a big deal of it but in high school it would simply be "Thanks for doing your homework, would you like a cookie?" We had a substitute teacher when I was in high school who would hand out Jolly Ranchers when the class was good. Everyone loved her.

    It would create something positive for the students who are actually trying. You may start having a few more students turn in their work who were right on the cusp of maybe doing it. It might have a snowball effect and could at least help with relationship building with students by showing their efforts are appreciated.

    I'd probably do this as the year progressed, but not at the start. You wouldn't want them expecting it because then it loses its appeal. They sound like a rough crowd. Good luck this year. :rolleyes:

    Adding: Overall, I think in this and a lot of classroom situations, relationships are key. Try to focus on building a connection with them first and foremost. Sometimes teachers might talk about a favorite TV show or sports team... Having something that shows the teacher as a real person can make a difference sometimes too.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2018
  13. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    I never had a problem. The organizer was away from students and in my line of sight; I’m sure she’s got it controlled. She’s not the type of teacher kids want to mess with! I’m sure she’s got a procedure for any kid without a phone, too.
     
  14. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    Aug 16, 2018

    Are you saying he should do that in front of students, or on school property? Not cool!
     
  15. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 16, 2018

    Oh no...I’m not recommending a remake of ‘Bad Teacher’. Seriously, Milsey. :dizzy:
     
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  16. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Aug 17, 2018

    I'm going to take a different tactic and suggest that you find a way to incorporate the student's technology into the lesson. I have seen teachers use tech to the point that you walk into the room, it is dead quiet, and everyone is on their phone. The kicker, however, is that they are interacting with each other and the teacher, not goofing off. Do I think it takes some rethinking by most teachers to incorporate this level of tech into their teaching and proof of learning? You bet. Do I think this is meeting the kids where they are at, incorporating skill sets that they are familiar with? You bet. If I hadn't seen it in action, I wouldn't believe it, but I have seen it in use, the entire class interacting on Google Docs, holding a deep discussion using the student's familiarity with tech to engage and meet the students where they are comfortable. They started with a question that required the reading to have been completed, and then there was this whole class discussion going on via tech. This was being utilized be a former state teacher of the year, and it was impressive. Assignments were obviously being adapted to make these class discussions count towards the grades, and any further assignment could be built off of these class discussions, taking them deeper than the standard assignments. It is a new generation with a new way of communicating (for better or worse) and meeting them where they are at may make the exercise more fulfilling for all concerned. As a disclosure, this was a 1:1 tech driven school, and the phones were allowed as a learning tool.
     
  17. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Aug 17, 2018

    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
  18. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Aug 17, 2018

    I think seniors are especially tough for a new (to the school) teacher -- they are very much focused on a teacher's "reputation" and if you don't have one yet, they think they know everything and you know nothing. And to some extent, it might be true -- you might not know the school culture, policies, etc. 100% in your first couple of years, but seniors have been there four years and think they run the place. I found seniors got easier as I got more established at my current school and became more a part of the community. I also realized that a lot of my seniors are either going to the JC or are not college-bound at all, so they think senior year should just be one long party. The more you stick to your guns while also trying to incorporate real-world connections, the more they will respond, eventually.
     
  19. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 17, 2018

    Delete
     
  20. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Aug 18, 2018

    I love this movie!:rofl:
     
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