What keeps you going as a teacher?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Pi-R-Squared, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    I love my job as a math teacher but what really gripes me is that a very large majority of my students aren’t good at it so their approach is lacking. Lot of the kids here don’t care much about school. I’ve basically given up on my senior boys and my lower junior students just don’t care either. None of them plan on going to college so ACT prep and practice is just them writing random letters on a piece of paper. Most of my lower Alg IA group are weak so they’d do anything besides math. My 8th grade group was already weak last year but this year they’re just not trying to learn anymore. I now can see why teachers leave the field en mass because they don’t feel they’re making any difference. Anyone feel the same?
     
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  3. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    At this exact minute, yes. I have at least 10 of my grade 7 students who can't find equivalent fractions (half of those can't tell me how many fifths are in a whole). They don't want my help, they just want someone to do the work for them.
     
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  4. geoteacher

    geoteacher Habitué

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    I do also, but I don't teach math. Students sometimes seem to lack that curiosity that spurs me to learn. When I hear about something interesting, I often want to learn more about it. Many of the students seem satisfied with very cursory answers.
     
  5. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    Is this just our being at the wrong schools? Would conditions change at a different location? I figure if I went to a larger school I’d end up with an even larger percentage of students not caring..... At least at my small school, there aren’t fights and students standing up to teachers.
     
  6. geoteacher

    geoteacher Habitué

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    Sadly, I think it is a sign of the times - and I really don't feel that I am a pessismist. Students are bombarded with information from so many sources, and there are so many more distractions in their lives. It just seems harder to focus in general.
     
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  7. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I notice this as well. Kids seem different now from when I started teaching high school just 10 years ago.
     
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  8. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I think math has to be a really hard subject to teach because so many people (kids and adults alike) are indifferent to it, at best. I teach two subjects that I personally am extremely passionate about and I think (at least, I like to think!) my passion spills over and helps my students become engaged in my subjects. I think you have to go back to what made you want to teach your subject in the first place, and let that guide you. Why math? What about it to you is beautiful? Not just "important," but fascinating? Exciting? I personally really never liked math, but I remember one teacher showing us the Fibonacci sequence and images of it in nature, and thinking that was beautiful and crazy/cool enough to make me at least think about the power of math in the universe. I think if we can show our students why we are passionate about our subject areas, then we have a slightly better chance of perhaps getting *some* kids excited about it, too. The rest are probably going to stay indifferent to it, and you have to accept that, as well. We teach for those little moments when you see a student finally "get it," or at least try. "What? By such narrow ways!" --> an absurdist manual of teaching :)
     
  9. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    In my opinion we teach so much more than our subjects. I teach high school, so the way I look at it is that I teach them
    - persistence, to come to school even when they don't want to. To at least try to write that essay and see if it comes out better than they taught. I tell them if they hate a subject, they have to try even harder, because it's not going away. For example they need to pass English to graduate, so if they hate it and not do it, the problem doesn't go away. We have to try harder in life if we hae problems. It's not only the easy things to conquer.
    - I teach them organization skills. how to organize their papers, their folder. I used to have them turn in 1-2 week's worth of work, including warm ups, etc. and had everything written on the board, how they were to go in order. If it wasn't, I took points off. I explained to them that one day they will have a boss who will need them to put things in order and if they didn't pay attention, they would find someone else who would.
    - I teach the to meet deadlines.work ethics. To finish things.
    - my favorite things to teach were things that were relatable to their lives. Because I have always been allowed to create my curriculum, I was able to tailor things. I explained to them why basic reading skills are important, even if it comes to a simple informational material. One day their kid will come home from school needing to sign a bunch of papers and they won't even know what it says. Or the child will need them to help them with their homework and they won't even know how to read the problem.
    - teach them communication skills. Skills to e able to advocate for themselves, to be able to take care of problems. If they have a mistake on their electric bill, they should be able to voice their concern and find out what the mistake is who will fix it instead of just not pay it, or cuss someone out on the phone.
    - I try to instill respect and self respect in them, as well as compassion and empathy. This is the hardest but at least I try to open their eyes that the whole word is not revolving around them, but also the whole world is not against them.

    So, no, you don't only teach math or history, you're teaching them life skills and lessons. That's what keeps me going.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019
  10. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Motivation has plummeted in my students this year. It's partially due to some school changes, but it seems like more and more students actually, really think they don't need to do what adults say anymore. I'll have super simple situations where I'll tell a child to hand me or put away a toy that they've been playing with in class after being warned, and they'll completely ignore what I'm saying because they don't want to do it. More and more children are allowed to do whatever they want, and feel no shame in telling grownups "no". That's an issue. Some of them just refuse to do things they don't want to do. I'm all for making learning fun but... Sometimes you just gotta take care of business and get the work done.

    To answer your question though:

    What keeps me motivated is the students who want to learn. I enjoy helping the struggling students who truly want to improve, and also seeing students who feel lukewarm towards reading start to love it as the year progresses.

    Also, an occasional hug from a kid or a thoughtful drawing created just for you, along with telling you that you're their favorite, best teacher ever helps put everything back into perspective. Last week, a student said to a friend that she couldn't wait for the weekend. The other girl countered: "I don't want the week to end. I like weekends, but I like school too!" It's good to know that you're providing an educational and comfortable environment that students enjoy being a part of.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
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  11. Teacher234

    Teacher234 Cohort

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    Working with my students and helping them learn and grow.
     
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  12. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    My 8th grade students told me this today.

    "You know how to teach. It's not a problem with your teaching. You're just teaching too fast...." Then I reply, "Really? I thought I was going kinda slow or even normal speed!"

    So I can only imagine how my super-low classes must feel. Gosh, if they perceive my teaching as very fast when I'm thinking I'm going slow, that's a big problem.....
     
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  13. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    My English learners used to tell me this! I learned to speak in slow-mo with economy of language. (Or it feels like slow-mo!)
     
  14. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    This reminds me of the recent Progressive commercial when Flo is trying to get her sister to sign up for homeowners insurance. She points out that it is ridiculously simple to do, and the sister, barely moving the pedals on her exercise bike, tells Flo to be quiet - she's "blasting her quads." Speed is relative, and if the students don't want to actually commit to learning, then any "speed" is out of their comfort zone. You might try letting them research and present something from a lesson, one at a time, on different topics - give it a nice point value to encourage participation. See if they become exasperated that classmates don't want to engage. Nothing makes your point better than to let the students make it for you.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
  15. whizkid

    whizkid Cohort

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    School breaks and field trips.
     
  16. mcqxu

    mcqxu Comrade

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    I teach a language, and can move too quickly too. It is so hard not to. Thing is, some students keep up just fine and then can get very bored. I probably teach to that group too much. It is good to remind myself to put myself in the shoes of all students!

    What keeps me going... I really do love what I teach, and with the occasional exception, I love that I can teach it the way I want to and most effectively in my current school. I also try to bring food multiple times a year, and do my best to make the language alive and meaningful. That keeps students going lol.
     
  17. Teacher234

    Teacher234 Cohort

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    I teach at a relatively slower pace. I ensure all students have a good understanding of the part of a lesson and I monitor students for who needs to provide 1:1 review.
     
  18. JimG

    JimG Comrade

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    1. Patience
    2. Building positive raport with students
    3. Spiraling instruction through multiple learning styles (audio, visual, tactile, social, etc.)
    4. Humor
    5. Supportive admin and PLC members
    6. Overplanning to avoid downtime
    7. Kind, positive-phrased redirection (“Hey Johnny, you with us?” vs. “Johnny, stop putting your head down!”)
    8. Never assuming that certain steps are so “obvious” that I can skim over them (for instance, some students get just by looking at it why if 2x = 10, then x = 5; but some HAVE to write the divide 2 step in order to grasp it. I would rather cover every detail possible than gloss over parts and have kids give up because they can’t follow.)

    Not sure if you were actually looking for a list as opposed to just venting, but those items came to mind.
     
  19. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    What I hate to say is that I don’t see many of my students dedicating and committing to learn. As I’ve stated many times, a large majority will go either go straight to work or drop out and “wait for the government check.” Very depressing circumstances here.....
     
  20. JimG

    JimG Comrade

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    See #2 above. It won’t necessarily solve all the issues with intentional non-learners (though it will help), but it will make your time with them easier, if not enjoyable. In fact, I would say that if a student is not motivated internally nor academically, then the ONLY way to get them to listen to anything you say is to have a positive raport with them.
     
  21. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    Well, as an assistant coach for baseball, I can build rapport that way. Since we live in the redneck boondocks, I sometimes ask them how their mudding, 4-wheeling, and hunting are doing and they gladly respond. Math? Not a chance.
     
  22. Geologygirl

    Geologygirl Comrade

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    The support from my fellow teachers and the notes kids write to say thank you
     
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  23. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    My colleagues, my supportive admin, my students, my awesome salary, the fact that I get to teach the subject I love (math), and the school breaks and time off. ‘Tis the life.
     
  24. whizkid

    whizkid Cohort

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    Is something the whizkid probably won't ever get to say.
     
  25. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    :(
     
  26. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    I do have supportive admin and faculty. Teaching at a very small rural school where most of the kids' futures aren't too bright reminds us teachers of how fortunate we are to have an impact in the lives of students. With that said however, I'm starting to get agitated and annoyed at the students who don't give a sh**. For example, my 1st period 11th grade Geometry class comes in late, don't have their books, or pencils, or paper, and just sit there.... I go through the lessons with sarcasm and disdain... It's like they don't care so why should I care...... I realize this isn't the healthiest way to teach these and I do have 2 of the 15 students who actually listen, take notes, etc..... I also believe administration and other faculty know about this group of students. The English teacher has the same problems...... Nevertheless, I try not to let it bother me and I just come to school, do my job, and wait for things to improve.
     
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  27. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    I dont know if this would work but at times with my elem. classes in PE I would have a "come to Jesus" meeting. Meaning I laid it out in black and white and called those out that deserved it. In your case I would point out that a few seem to care about this class. How those good at math usually make the most money in the game of life employment. And that I may not be able to make you care but I can help those that do care. So starting today those that wish to learn and will come to class prepared and engaged will sit near the front and the rest that are just here to vegetate can sit closer to the back and WILL NOT disrupt the class. I would even tell my P or supervisor what I was gonna do. I worked in a very small town rural setting too for 40 years. It worked for me.
     
  28. teacherguy111

    teacherguy111 Cohort

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    100% relationships with students is what keeps me going. I probably wouldn't still be in it otherwise. I enjoy teaching the content but enjoy the students the most.
     
  29. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    All my students are good kids. It’s just that most of them are stuck in generational poverty. The successful ones are those who can either escape and get into college, go straight to work, or enlist in the armed forces and make it ok. But for the rest? Hate to put the “poor white trash” label on them but those are the ones I am teaching. Parents, if they’re around, don’t or can’t help with academics. Those that I have 1st period? They don’t even show up until 2 or less minutes before bell. I end up seeing other students and saying hello to them besides the ones who should be here. What I really don’t want happening is letting this mindset affect my other classes. The 7th, 8th, and 9th graders? I hound them to death about doing well, studying, trying hard, and paying attention. Most of them try but they struggle at times. At least they’re attempting! 10th through 12th? It’s like talking to rocks.
     
  30. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I don't want to sound like I am blaming you -- and I understand because I have been through this, too (minus the "white" part). As educators, we have to be aware of our mindset and how it affects the subtle differences in how we treat our students or classes. I started teaching in the inner city and had almost all poor, minority students, and subconsciously, I had expectations of what these students would (or would not) be capable of. I struggled in my first years to overcome this mindset in myself. Once I became aware of my mindset and changed it to see the boundless potential in my students, things began to change for me as a teacher. I won't say everything suddenly became perfect, but it became easier to hold my students to high expectations and have them meet me there. Start with yourself and you just might be surprised at what becomes possible!
     
  31. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    Feb 15, 2019

    When I first started teaching 6 years ago, I asked my senior math teacher colleague to observe a class that I had trouble with. After school, he said I can teach but I'd have to make seating changes to alter the dynamic of the classroom. He said that, in a classroom of 21 students, there will be 7 students who will always understand it no matter what I do, 7 students who will never get it no matter what I do, and 7 students right in the middle. Those 7 might or might not get it depending on the teacher and those they sit around with. Then he suggested that I sit the top 7 in the front, the middle 7 in the middle, and bottom 7 in the back. He also said if there are any "turds" in the class, sit them in the back because that's where turds come from. I have yet to implement that strategy because I believe all students can learn with help. But this year, his 7-7-7 or 8-8-8 theory might take hold in my larger sized classes. For instance, 7th grade has 24 students. The split in that class is around 5-11-8. The 8th grade with 25 is ever worse at 2-13-10. For a smaller sized 11th grade geometry with 15, it's 0-6-9. I'm starting to wonder if this is starting to affect my teaching abilities. My wife keeps reminding me that how I grew up and how my parents hounded me with school and academics is not the same with the students I teach. How it's an unfair advantage that I can help with children with trigonometry and logarithms but my students are not afforded that luxury. I wondering if I need to change my location or my attitude or even both!
     
  32. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    In forty years I came to this epiphany. The dynamics of a class (im so glad you used that word) can be fragile at times. I have seen one kid come into a class and it all goes to hell. And the flip side to that, also. In upper elem. if the leaders in the class are good kids the class is usually good. I have heard many many HS teachers lament the fact that too many kids now just dont GAS.........I always ALWAYS felt blessed teaching Elem. PE because my class was a desired destination but I worked hard at making it that way for as many as I could. When I taught I almost always had a passion for what I was teaching. Math, reading, tech skills, games, sport skills. I wanted the kid to feel it was important and could be rewarding (like it was for me). Even so you had those with attitudes that were like granite and hard to overcome. That was the time to throw life lines to the motivated and tell the quitters to sink or swim. Make it crystal clear they were making the decisions to fail and were going to be held responsible for their actions. One other thing I believed strongly and even have heard it recently from others that share our occupation. IF the kids know you care, really care and are not bllshtting them and you will listen to them when you can without too much judgement you can get some of those to buy in and give you good effort. I will say it is the hardest job in the world and can be the most rewarding........
     
  33. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    Here’s a good example of what’s going on. The ACT test will be given to Juniors on the 20th. We’re supposed to “blitz” them in English, Math, and Science. So I had them take a practice section of math. They ALL finished in 5 minutes or less because they just randomly circled answers. The most common comment? “Well, I’m not going to college anyway so I don’t care about this.” Well, bully for them that they can just mess around with this and not take it seriously
    BUT our school systems are report-card graded and one criterion is how the juniors do on the ACT. Last year, we were lucky because more than half of the students were planning on college. This year’s crop of juniors the majority are not college-bound and majorly don’t give a dang. I’m sure my admin will say to try my best but when the next report card comes out and the school drops a grade letter, who’s gonna get blamed? :(
     
  34. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    I know I would not be as effective in an environment like that as I am in my current school. I recently had a student teacher observe two of my CP [regular] classes, after he had observed in 2 other schools. He remarked that my CP students behaved themselves and engaged themselves like the honors/AP students he observed in the other schools, and he was surprised by the effort they put in.I try to be the best teacher that I can be, but I don't think what he observed has a ton to do with me in particular. I know a lot of it has to do with being in an affluent town with supportive familities and the like. For me, it's definitely the right environment. If you just feel like you are going through the motions with your students, it might be a good time for you to find a change of setting. The only downside I observe is that I think most of my students would be successful with just about any teacher, so long as he or she knew the content well enough. It takes a more special type of person to work in your environment.
     
  35. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    I gotcha. Our school grades in Fla. are tied to all kinds of things we do. When we see a young kid just Christmas tree a test it kills us. But what really drives me insane and has for years is our ESE kids are required to take the same tests and as the regular kids. I watched one great kid struggle every year and try as hard as he could. I remember the year he finally just gave up. What sort of moron decides kids that have no chance should HAVE to take the same test as kids on level for their grade? Now if its me in front of your unmotivated juniors who are not trying? My speech is exactly what you told me. That OUR school is graded and your lack of effort will cause us damage and bad press. I would also point out that many kids after HS realize they do need to go to college or some sort of classes to make more money so this could help them years down the line. I would appeal to pride, economics , whatever I could to inspire or motivate them Hell I might even have a little classroom prize for whover showed the most improvement or something of that nature. I was never above bribery to get kids moving the direction I wanted them going. I have offered fishing trips to kids over learning mult. tables for years...........rural kids like to fish.
     
  36. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    I’m envious of you because even though I work in an “affluent” area, the wealthier students tend to misbehave (though, the vast majority are not too bad) because they are used to getting what they want at home. And it really doesn’t help when I have a class of 36 students and 5-7 like to make innapropriate comments or obscene gestures to each other and myself. That’s why I love my prep periods and certain periods over others.
     
  37. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    My chilled wine waiting for me back home.
     
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