Students petition against work

Discussion in 'General Education' started by squirrely, Mar 8, 2014.

  1. squirrely

    squirrely New Member

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    Mar 8, 2014

    Hi all. I currently teach 6th grade math and science. I've taught 7th and 8th grade math before as well as Algebra I. Yesterday my advanced science class came up with a petition that was left on my desk as I was standing in front of my door before class began. In it was a list of names and them saying they needed to "take a stand." The list of their concerns included that I had an attitude, I assign too many projects and don't give them time to do them, I give out too many worksheets, I seem like I don't like them, I don't answer questions, etc.

    Needless to say I'm up early this morning upset and hurt about it. These kids are in a specialty program where a majority of them are gifted. There are 3 other sections of this class taught by 2 other teachers. We all assign the same work, do the same labs, same worksheets, card sorts, field trips, etc. I have been told I have very good classroom management, and I feel the same as I balance between being serious, trying to bring in humor, and just being my bubbly self during teaching. This has completely thrown me for a loop.

    We just got finished with the science fair which was incredibly intensive, but other than that I assign homework once a week, about 2-3 projects a quarter, and the worksheets that they do we usually go over together after I've taught and we've done labs on the same topics. The main people behind this are a group of 5 girls that sit together. Honestly, it made me feel like I was in middle school again constantly bullied. When I addressed the class about it, that group tried defending their stance complete with several eye-rolls at which point, I just continued on with the lesson. Then the girls started talking about me and laughing as I was circulating the room.

    So what's my next step? I'm bringing it to guidance and the principal on Monday as well as making copies for the parents of those kids. On a level, I'm impressed that they used something they learned in History and applied it to their everyday lives, on the other hand, this is middle school and they are not going to be successful thinking they can petition their way out of doing work that is mandatory for the program.

    What would you do with this situation? :help:
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Mar 8, 2014

    I would separate the girls as a first step. Then I would notify my supervising administrator so that he had a heads up. After that I would let it go. I would definitely not address it again with the whole class.

    One of my teacher friends got a note/petition like this last year. It wasn't about her or her teaching but about the kids and the fact that they are lazy and entitled.
     
  4. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Mar 8, 2014

    You played right into their hands. Why would you let a group of little children upset you? I've received a note or two with complaints before. I simply inwardly rolled my eyes and stored away the note for future reference.

    Once I had a particularly obnoxious kid demand a response to a letter/petition he had orchestrated. A respnse is what they want after all. They don't really believe they can influence the curriculum. So while he was working independently later in class I corrected the spelling and grammar mistakes in the note and told him to fix them and resubmit. The mass of red ink on it was my response to him.
     
  5. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Mar 8, 2014

    I'm sorry you had to experience this. Keep the upper hand and realize that your expertise doesn't have to meet with their approval. Be strong and believe in yourself.
     
  6. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Mar 8, 2014

    By the way, a number of tween shows have the characters creating petitions for things as a way to try to resolve something the group "believes".

    Just thought I would let you know where this may have come from. It may not have been original thought on their part but modeled behavior from a TV show.
     
  7. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Mar 8, 2014

    I've never experienced this before but I probably would have just viewed this attempt as "cute" and addressed it with a little bit of mock gravity. I would have then probably told them that the reason I assign so much work and am so hard on them is because I really think they're capable students who I know can rise up to the challenge and show me what they're made of. I'd apologize if it seemed that I didn't like them but the truth is I like all of them very much and just want them to succeed.

    I wouldn't tolerate any responses or whining to this pronouncement, but at that point I think most of them would have a renewed feeling of wanting to reach your expectations and wouldn't want to respond. Any whining response to this would cheapen their message and they would lose support from their peers.
     
  8. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Mar 8, 2014

    I definitely would not have addressed it with the whole class. That just gave them power.
     
  9. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Mar 8, 2014

    I completely agree with this. It is a big mistake to address these type of concerns with the whole class...ever.

    What happened is not that surprising for this age. Nothing to get upset or worried about. I find the ring leaders of these petitions often have the same thing in common--they are often trying to get out of doing work. If you are doing things that you think are wrong than make the change on your own. 6th graders shouldn't dictate these.

    Keep your expectations high...students will constantly try to bring them down..don't let them.
     
  10. RadiantBerg

    RadiantBerg Cohort

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    Mar 8, 2014

    Since they like petitions so much, it gave you a great idea for a new assignment---write a letter to a state representative about global warming or some other environmental issue.
     
  11. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Mar 8, 2014

    I would issue the following statement.

    "From now on I will limit x number of projects and x number of assignments every 45 school days or two fortnights, whichever is shorter."

    X, of course, being equal to whatever you currently assign over that period. By the time they figure out what a fortnight is and how to track 45 school days, they will have forgotten about it all.

    "Furthermore, individual students may address any concerns they have about my attitude or me not liking them in writing. All submissions must be at least 100 words, hand written, in pen on college rule paper. Submissions with spelling and grammar errors will be returned without consideration."
     
  12. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Mar 8, 2014

    Do the kids have any kind of agreement or guidelines on how much time they are supposed to be spending on homework each night? Could you ask them to keep a schedule for a week of how long they actually spend working on these assignments?

    My idea is that this would be for their benefit. I highly doubt that you are assigning legitimately three hours of work a night, or anything crazy like that. If it is taking them 3 hours to complete what should be a 1/2 hour assignment, they need to look at what else they're doing (like watching TV at the same time) that's making it take so long.

    I would also likely approach it like Peregrin described above.
     

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