Showing responsibility in High School

Discussion in 'Secondary Education Archives' started by Nica, Aug 20, 2006.

  1. Nica

    Nica Rookie

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    Aug 20, 2006

    I teach high school students & their ages can range from 14 yrs.old as Freshman to 20 year old Seniors. I get really frustrated sometimes when some students come to class w/out any of their materials, i.e., pens, paper, notebook, textbook, etc. Some of my colleagues tell me I should just "supply" them w/that stuff & they say they do. They tell me I should be glad that "they are there." I have a problem with that. Should I also supply them w/toothpaste, deoderant, paper, folders, socks,etc.? These are high school students! I guess I can continue to call parents if they even live at home. What about giving them detention? Not sure. My rules were clearly explained & given to them since day one by the way.
    Would love to hear any suggestions that are positive and could work for me. Thanks!
     
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  3. hernandoreading

    hernandoreading Comrade

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    Aug 20, 2006

    Last year I taught high school & 10% of the grade for my class was participation, and that included bringing needed materials to class. If they didn't have what they needed, they lost points off their participation grade. After a couple of weeks, they realized that I really was keeping track and started coming to class much more prepared. Of course for this to work, the students have to care about their grade.....
     
  4. Music Doc

    Music Doc Habitué

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    I agree with hernandoreading. A portion of my daily class grade is based on preparedness.......no materials, daily grade drops. I also note it on progress reports.
     
  5. Nica

    Nica Rookie

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    Aug 21, 2006

    okay guys....but what do you do? When they come to class w/out paper, book or pen....Do you supply them w/that stuff? Or do they just sit in class doing nothing? Sure you can lower their grade, call parents, etc.....but we can't just ignore them for that day. I was trying to figure out a better way to encourage responsibility........some of these guys are almost 21 yrs.old by the way !
     
  6. Music Doc

    Music Doc Habitué

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    Aug 21, 2006

    If they can borrow from others, that's fine....but unless I have something immediately handy, I don't waste everyone else's time. And if they're pushing 21, they may be beyond help anyhow.......
     
  7. hernandoreading

    hernandoreading Comrade

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    Aug 21, 2006

    I second that! They have to borrow from someone in the class. I cannot afford to supply all their school supply needs, even if I wanted to. if they don't have the materials, and cannot get them, I suppose they'll find more zero's adding up for work not done.
     
  8. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Aug 21, 2006

    They are testing you.

    Do not make it easy for them to just show up and use YOUR stuff, rather than bring their own. Let them fail if that's what they want so badly. There are too many sweet hardworking kids out there who truly deserve your talent, and to ignore them and focus on these lazy arses is a crime. Let them do nothing and fail. And if they act up, throw them out. If the office will not help you, go to your superintendent. If HE/SHE will not help you, go public. Administrations live in fear of parents finding out things like this.

    I always had a cup of gross short pencils they could use for free, but if they wanted a nice pen or pencil they had to buy it from me.

    I also loved to give a pop quiz on the days when an especially large number of slackers showed up with nothing. Super-easy questions and some extra points for the good kids and NOTHING for the losers.

    Some of them really don't care; they're probably still there only because they're special ed or working off probation. If they're probation, be sure their prob. officer knows they're slacking.

    Whatever you do, don't ignore the good kids; give them most of your attention; the slackers are just trying to divert you from actual teaching.

    I don't put up with much.
     
  9. Docere

    Docere Rookie

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    Aug 21, 2006

    Yeah, it is their grade. Not putting in effort equals getting a bad grade. That's the biggest punishment that you could give them, I think. They made a choice, not to be prepared. Everyone has bad days and forgets supplies once and while, but just once in a while. If they are choosing to show up repeatedly without supplies, they should be ready to take the fall for it. They've already made up their mind that they are going to shoot for a D, and there's not much you can do about it except try to change their mind.

    Taking away points for not being prepared might work with some (particularly the ones that like to borrow), but what would really work would be to let them suffer the consequences of their poor choices and encourage them to make better choices next time.
     
  10. wunderwhy

    wunderwhy Comrade

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    Aug 24, 2006

    I taught in a more rural and poor school my first year, and I felt the same frustration you do. I would try to be nice to the kids and buy them tissues and paper, etc., only to find them taking them for granted. They'd take tissue after tissue just so they could go out in the hall to blow their nose for five minutes (this was middle school and that was the rule) or they'd scribble on the paper then crumple it up. Finally I resorted to taking toilet paper from the staff bathroom and only giving out copy paper I'd gotten from the school. Another teacher gave me a bunch of pencils with spoons taped on the end so that students could use them during class but would be embarrassed to take them with them. That was a hassle, though.

    Now I teach at a high school where there is still a lot of poverty. I find that I don't mind buying tissues or bandaids for the kids because it makes their time in class easier and they are generally appreciative and polite about it (if you don't have bandaids on hand, they'll ask to go to the nurse for every microscopic paper cut). I generally find enough pencils and pens on the floor to redistribute them when somebody doesn't have one.

    I've also found that when you tell the students that you bought something, they are more respectful of it. Like a lot of adults, if something seems to belong to some faceless institution, they don't care about taking it or misusing it, but if they know that you spent your own money on it, they'll feel sorry for you (they always mention how teachers get paid diddly squat, so you can play into that) and only use it when they need it.

    If the students don't have toothpaste and deoderant, it sounds like bringing a pencil and paper to school are the least of their problems. I'd cut them some slack or move to a more well-off area. In the meantime, stock up on supplies provided by your school or community. I just went to Staples and got a bag of some school supplies given free to teachers (sign up for their teacher reward card). A few years ago I posted on a website (http://www.iloveschools.com) that my school needed chalk. Actually, it was just that the foreign language department chair forgot to order it, and I gave my friend all of my extra chalk from my department. Then I forgot about the posting. A few months ago, the office called to tell me that somebody had anonymously dropped off 100 boxes of chalk based on my post.

    Also, sometimes there are grants offered by local companies that you can apply for. Around here, so few teachers apply that if you do, you have a good chance of getting $1000 to spent how you proposed. One teacher used it to buy books her students could read outside of class.

    Last night I was in Target and saw a lot of poor kids shopping with well-to-do people who obviously weren't their parents. It turned out it was a charity event that happens yearly to buy school supplies for low-income students. I try to remember that some people really don't have the money for these things. That doesn't mean that it is your responsibility to provide it, but it may be unrealistic to expect them to be able to.

    I've really been touched by my students' generosity when I have a good rapport with them. At the end of last year, a student (family immigrated here ten years ago) gave me this beautiful arrangement of roses and gerber daisies that must have cost $40 or $50. When I looked up her address to send her a thank-you note, I found that she was living in sketchy apartment complex. My newspaper kids all paid $3 to get a picture frame engraved for me as a surprise. These are kids that I've lent lunch money to or given granola bars to when they couldn't afford lunch. Then we raised $120 (ok, I gave half of it) to buy the graduating editor in chief a mini-refrigerator for college. Everyone was so excited, and she cried out of joy. Maybe by being generous you can encourage them to do the same.
     

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