Students making your class a low priority

Discussion in 'Art Teachers' started by a teacher, Feb 4, 2015.

  1. a teacher

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    It has happened again! I have a couple of deadbeat "students" who sit in class and literally do nothing. It's also a reason I'm sensitive to any opinion that these kinds of kids can be reached or that you should expend any energy on them.

    Anyway, I looked up their grades, assuming that they were brain dead in their other classes too and was very dissappointed to see that while yes, they were failing or getting Ds in a couple of other classes other than my art class, they had Bs and Cs, or sometimes even As in other classes. What should I make of this? It can only be one of two things, or a combination:

    a) They are choosing to make an effort in other classes and purposely being useless in mine
    b) Their other classes are super-easy

    Do any of you experience this? Your subject doesn't have to be art.
     
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  3. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I have definitely experienced this. The most common answer is, "I'm just not much of a reader / writer." The tough part is avoiding internalizing the comments and just doing what you can for those who make the choice to engage with the material.
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I teach an elective. I occasionally have students who earn low grades in my class but have As and Bs in other classes. I assume that the other classes are either more interesting to the student and/or easier for the student. It is what it is. I can't control the rigor in another teacher's class, nor can I control my students' personal interests.

    I will often call the student over to my desk and say something like, "I've noticed that you have mostly As and Bs in your other classes, but you have a D in mine. Why is that?" The conversation that results usually does a little to push the student towards more desirable behaviors. Even if it doesn't, I don't stress too much. I prefer to focus on the students who want to be successful.
     
  5. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    What should you make of it?

    They don't enjoy the subject matter and have figured out that you don't give a darn about them if they don't do anything. You won't expend any more energy than you have to (to meet whatever requirement your admin has for your classes). I'm sure they have figured out your opinion of those who aren't trying. You are probably giving them exactly what they want in a class they feel they have no use for but had to fill in their schedule (unless it was a mandatory elective).

    As for your class being harder? Well, there is no way for us to know how your class and expectations compare. If you feel that you have exceptionally high expectations and rigor, you might want to see if these kids became resistant to working when they determined it wasn't worth the effort. Too much work for little or no gain will shut many kids down.
     
  6. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    There could be other options. I have kids who have to work really hard in one class (chemistry here for most of mine) that ultimately something has to give. I find sitting down to chat with them usually helps me. Parent contact also helps.
     
  7. a teacher

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    I agree with the sentiment. I think the best way to not get aggravated by those kids is to place proportionally more attention on the serious kids. Ideally I can block the lazy kids out entirely.
     
  8. a teacher

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    I definitely call parents. I want to make it as uncomfortable for a kid to be lazy as possible. Since their stupid decision is based on immaturity and ignorance, my hope is that the parent will understand and apply pressure. But at the same time a lot of these kids are messed up because their families are.
     
  9. a teacher

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    That's false. They haven't thought, "Oh, this teacher is giving up on me and so I'll check out..." This kind of outlook really irks me because it presumes the teacher is doing something wrong.

    They make the decision early on and won't budge despite how uncomfortable it is to do what they're doing and how stupid their attitude is. When this becomes evident, most teachers, being rational and overworked, will abandon any effort and the kid will just take up space in the room for the year.
     
  10. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    What do you do during your class to motivate students?
     
  11. a teacher

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    I am passionate about my subject and I create lessons that are engaging.

    That's why I get so annoyed at the deadbeats. Although you know it's not personal, you can't help feeling offended. It's like they're saying the class isn't worth their effort or time. It adds insult to injury when they show they can achieve in other classes.
     
  12. bluegill

    bluegill Rookie

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    I have one student who is very fickle because of drug abuse. I consistently tell him that I am concerned about his grade and that he has the ability and the choice to do better. I get comments all the time like "I need to try harder Mr. ____." He usually has a positive attitude. Used to be a lot worse; a lot of teachers have given up on him. He used to just leave my class all the time and there was a truancy report filed.

    Another student comes to my class every day and says things like "I hate this class." or "Are we even doing anything today?" and I downplay them with humor. Today she was totally stuck on our revision activity and said she was frustrated. Big teachable moment for me so I seized that opportunity. I am trying to build rapport with her so that she is more obligated.

    Then there is a student with a negative attitude toward school. He feels like nothing he will learn will be useful in life. So I challenge his thoughts to a higher level by having him express himself and explain his thoughts. Over time, he has learned to respect me and my class for that. He is doing better this semester.

    Those are just a few students I put a lot of effort into. Sometimes I have a bad day and give up. But I come back the next day and try again.

    I do have one "deadbeat". He has some kind of learning disorder or disability that is undiagnosed. His home life is crap. His parents didn't raise him right. He has some pretty big problems. I am genuinely worried for him and honestly don't know how to help him. But I still try. Every day.
     
  13. TeacherNY

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    I think it could be a combination of things that various posters mentioned. Its hard to say with not knowing what your lessons consist of. If they were forced to take your class because of a requirement they needed to meet then they might just have a bad attitude about being somewhere they dont want to be that period.
     
  14. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    My sister is an art teacher, now in elementary, whose principal actually said to her: "I know art is really important, but we all know you are just here to give the classroom teachers a break."
    Are you kidding me?

    The fine arts teachers at her school do all the duties - lunch, bus, hallway. They also are taken away from their subjects to work in classrooms prior to testing. Is it any wonder that kids are disrespectful?
     
  15. a teacher

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    I think the main thing is that we are paying attention and looking for opportunities to get the learning to the kid. So situations and opportunities vary. I certainly don't think that just because a student's struggling or not doing so well they should be ignored, but deadbeats who refuse to work you can't do anything with because they don't communicate in any substantial way, they shrug their shoulders when questioned, and are just apathetic. If you've used pressuring, spoken to parents and they've continuously failed and are unresponsive, the only thing to do is sit them in a corner and forget about them so they don't irritate you or disrespect others through doing nothing in front of them.
     
  16. allyv

    allyv Rookie

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    I have been going through this exact same problem in my 8th grade class! And because I am new, I also am trying to figure out how to get these kids motivated.

    I actually asked one of my students why he was choosing to fail my class, because I can tell he made the choice already (he purposely turns in nothing). His response? "I will still get principals honor roll if I fail this class because I have all As in my other classes". What???? I left it at that, because I am thoroughly confused. Isn't principals honor roll only for students with all As in ALL classes? I think he might be terribly mistaken and next class, I'm going to make sure he understands he needs an A in my class too to get principals honor roll! I mean, how can you get that wrong?! Especially at 8th grade?!
     
  17. TeacherNY

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    What do the parents say when you tell them about the student's performance in class? Do they also shrug their shoulders?
     
  18. a teacher

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    Yes, as I mentioned it comes down to a combination of ignorance and immaturity with the bottom line being that these kinds of kids don't realize they're accruing educational debt! First get your school's policy straight, then announce it to all your classes in case you have other "geniuses" sitting around thinking the same stupid thoughts!
     
  19. a teacher

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    You know how it goes; they seem to be concerned but they are obviously completely inept at parenting.

    In one instance I talked to a parent who seemed like it mattered to him and claimed everything was fine at home and the kid was happy. This same family has given me three kids over the years who have all been mess ups in one way or another. This parent sounded like they had it together, but also said they hadn't seen the kid's final report card for the semester. So obviously incompetent!

    Actually it's really funny because I was sick of this kid so since nothing seemed to be motivating him I decided I'd pull him out of the group he was working on a project with. This was a group he had chosen. To my surprise, this apathetic deadbeat kid all of a sudden was all concerned and upset! He was acting defensive and claiming he had been contributing to his group the last time they worked together. I told him, you aren't doing the other 2/3's of the work for this class. You can't choose what you will do and what you won't do in my class. I sat him with another deadbeat and I told them both they would have to work together as a team and sink or swim. Allowing the students to choose groups is a privilege, and if a kid has a Fail, they lose that privilege, no matter what we're doing in the class. I actually did the same with some other kids in another class. Again, one of them couldn't make the connection, but too bad.
     
  20. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Well, as they say, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree :dunno: I sure don't miss working with that age group. Hope things get better for you at some point.
     
  21. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Electives are very important, and my kids have gotten so much out of them. I myself was in AP Art in high school, and have a huge respect for non-core subjects.

    That said, if my own kid blew their GPA on an elective, I would blow my top. They are required to do well in all classes, and maintain a decent GPA.

    If these kids don't care that their art grade will sink their GPA, then maybe their parents will. And if they don't, well, then you can't change matters.
     
  22. a teacher

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    Exactly. That's how I have to think. There will be a price the kid has to pay. Maybe my classes aren't necessary for graduation, maybe they're seen as extraneous, maybe they are expected to be fun and games. But the bottom line is that they are the same credit value as any other class, that doing poorly will lower a gpa and that colleges don't want to see ANY D's or F's on a transcript. All of that is my protection plan.

    So if, psychologically I can find ways to put those kids and their parents out of the picture entirely by isolating them from the rest of the class (literally and figuratively) that will help me deal with the apathy and help me focus on the good kids who make up the majority.

    Just please don't tell me I've "given up" on them and that's why they're apathetic.
     
  23. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Much easier on you, of course, to shun the inconvenient ones and pronounce that whatever the issue is, it can't be your fault, hm?
     
  24. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I guess you missed the class in teacher school that taught you that you teach everyone, not just the ones that make your job easier.
     
  25. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    :clap:
     
  26. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    What I find interesting is that in every few weeks the OP starts a thread about why the kids don't listen to him, don't do their work and have no interest in his classes, but by the end he has learned nothing.
    He agrees with those who agree with him, but explains his way out of all the constructive criticism or suggestions he receives.
    It just seems like he wants justification for his ways from strangers on an internet forum.

    Yes, there are always a few students whom you cannot do anything about, and after you have tried everything, you can honestly say that it's out of your control. You can't say that if 1/3 of your kids are like that. Even at my school, where most kids really don't care that much about their education seems to do ok in almost all their classes. I have 2 kids who are in danger of failing (interestingly they're the 2 smartest kids), one mostly because of absences and not making up work, the other is dealing with issues. I have tried and tried and tried. Maybe my classes are not challenging for them, but they acted the same way when it was much higher level. But these are 2 students out of all the ones we have.
    We do have art classes, and the kids don't even get to chose which electives they take (although the P does try to accommodate some). They LOVE their art classes. I know that the teacher has a lot to do with that.
     
  27. allyv

    allyv Rookie

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    You sound almost hateful towards this student, by using words like sick of him and deadbeat. I understand the frustration, but be careful about what words you use to describe your students. I was probably what one would call a deadbeat when I was In grade school and didn't shape up until college, and it was because my parents were going through a very nasty divorce. It affected me so much, they decided to not go through with it for my mental health's sake!

    You never know what these kids are going through that makes them lazy, but don't stress out over them, and definitely don't be hateful. Try your best to use positive reinforcement. Like when you do finally see the student working, compliment him/her and compliment his/her work. Then even go as far as to display it along with a few others. This may help the student to feel encouraged to work harder on the next project, and they may feel like they don't want to disappoint.
     
  28. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Don't forget that just because parents say things are okay at home doesn't make it true. I have a student suffering because of a nasty custody battle, but if you asked his parents they'd say they have no idea why his work is suffering.
     
  29. a teacher

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    I guess you either get it or you don't. :whistle:
     
  30. a teacher

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    I will repeat it for you:

    The kid DOESN'T want to learn.
     
  31. a teacher

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    I'm just sick of the apathy and can't stand someone sitting in my class doing nothing. The kid really should be thrown out.

    If I see an opportunity, as I said, I will take it to teach them. But when a kid's shut down, no teacher can reach him/her.
     
  32. a teacher

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    Exactly. Any kid who has an attitude problem in school, it's the parents fault. Almost 100% of the time.
     
  33. a teacher

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    Regarding your first paragraph, I only benefit from responses that address the point (rather than make assumptions about what kind of teacher I am) and which are realistic, not miss teacher goody-goody nonsense, that we all know they don't actually practice.
     
  34. a teacher

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    Who's REALLY doing the personal attacks on this thread? Hmmm?
     
  35. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Especially when the teacher decides to not try anymore.
     
  36. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    You misunderstand me he does NOT have an attitude problem. His work simply suffers during the court battle. He is super sweet and pleasant.

    Kids can have attitude problems because of teachers. I have a kid who's sweet as can be with me but a terror with another teacher.

    Attitude problems are usually multifaceted.
     
  37. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Absolutely. And 9 times out 10, when I ask a kid why they're disrespectful or just apathetic for one teacher and not for me, the response is either "she/he doesn't respect me" or "she/he doesn't care, why should I?"
     
  38. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Of course he has an attitude problem. He doesn't just block out what is going on his life like all adults are able to do. :lol:

    I hope you read my sarcasm in this post.
     
  39. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Who said anything about attacking? I said "explain", that you explain your way out of the constructive criticism.


    And your other comment about the goody-goody nonsense, well, you just proved my point.
    I practice what I preach, along with the many other professionals on this forum. I don't know why it is so hard for you to believe.
     
  40. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Your argument confuses me.

    You say "rather than make assumptions about what kind of teacher I am" and turn around and make assumptions about other teachers because you deem something unrealistic.

    Is that a "do as I say, not as I do" type of argument or an "I'm allowed to, you are not" argument?

    Please clarify.
     
  41. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    My 8th grade year, I had 90%+ in all classes. In my five (including Spanish) core classes, my midterm test grades were all above 95%, including a 104%. PE, music, home ec, technology... all above 90%. The only grade on my 8th grade report card that wasn't at least a 90% was art... with a 67%. I wasn't lazy, I wasn't unmotivated, I was trying. I was just really that bad an artist, and it was easier to pretend I didn't care than to admit I really was doing the best I knew how to do. My teacher graded harshly, and my desire to ever take art ever again was effectively gone (I actually changed majors two separate times solely to avoid having to take an art class).

    Long story short here... there's a lot of reasons why kids shut down in a particular subject. It would sadden me today as a 30 year old to think that my 8th grade art teacher had given up on me and decided I wasn't worth his effort.
     

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