Tuesday, September 04, 2007

It amazes me...the joy of freshmen!

I love teaching them. I love that they are open and spontaneous and everything done in class is so unpredictable. I love that they get into things and really want to learn from you. Yet, they lack so many skills that I expect them to come in with. What happened? Did they lose everything they learned in middle school? Was their knowledge replaced with the crap on MTV? Did they forget what responsibility is?
I don't know about any of you, but I'm frustrated. Obviously, each year is a challenge with freshmen because we have new students with new problems and behavior issues. I'm not saying that all freshmen are placed into this rant; but, COME ON! I assigned their first writing pre-assessment, which was not assigned a grade. I asked them to think reflectively on what they were passionate about in their life. They wanted me to tell them how to do it. How many pages, what it should be on, etc. Blah, blah, blah. I said, "Just go with it." I really don't think posting my expectations on my web page, which they supposedly read, did anything for them. There is one full page telling them what I expect of written compositions. They don't follow directions. Half of the class wrote a paragraph, that's it?! You only had eight sentences for your paper. How is that possible? But Mrs. Comp, "we were told that a paragraph is only 6 sentences." "I'm not passionate about anyting in my life." "I don't really have deep beliefs or ideas that I live by." Plus, many didn't double space, or type it, when I said numerous times, every day, to do that. Today, going over literary terms, some of them can't even define setting or a theme; yet, they got this years before.
It amazes me what skips out of their head. It amazes me that they lack the skills to write a personal narrative. It amazes me that I want them to take learning into their own hands and define themselves and what matters, but they have had their hands held all through their schooling. No wonder it's confusing. they haven't been taught to think (at least, may of them haven't). Maybe it shouldn't amaze me anymore. I feel like I could really challenge these students, but I have to focus a lot on their skills to get them up to par. I'm still not going to underestimate them. But, if this is the best freshmen class possibly to go through AHS, I might cry. All I ask is that some of these freshmen start to LISTEN! I think that is the biggest problem I have. All of the above can be fixed with time and practice and application. It's just they all have something to say and will do their all to get that out, but they don't know how to listen and take it in and process it. I'm tired of them playing the game of school. They will either own it, or won't. Many of them seem to value their education, as this was our first blog together. Maybe some of them aren't writing what they truly feel; but a loud wake up call is coming and with freshmen, we still have to guide them and hold their hands at times. It's amazing how they change from freshmen year to junior year. I know developmentally, their brains are still developing critical thinking processes. But, to learn in my class and have it stick is so valuable to me. I don't want my kids learning for learnign sake. I want them competnet and knowledgable going into their future years. I don't want to be just another class. I have to trust that they will find their voice and begin to grow. But, what's coming out right now is not acceptable.


Blogger Karl Fisch said...

Give it some time. You've (we've)only had them for a few weeks. They'll get it, they really will. In the meantime, just keep reminding them that it's not acceptable and that you (hopefully we as a school) simply won't take crap.

9:57 PM  
Blogger lgaffney said...

I'm going to play devil's advocate. Maybe it's not their fault. Maybe it's ours. If they don't see knowing the definition of setting as relevant, why wouldn't they simply discard it after a test? If they have gotten "A"s by counting to 6, why would they go any further? I think you are right in asserting they have learned to play the game of school and, unfortunately, we have taught them that this is a game not about "what matters", but rather a game about how one can jump through the hoops. Until we can unteach that hoop jumping and make relevance transparent, to them, what matters is skateboarding, MTV, friends, homecoming, etc. Not theme.

3:35 PM  

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