Wednesday, May 27, 2009

So many

...good and thought-provoking comments!

I've read through them all and managed to get them down to about 30 to put here on the blog.

Some took me by surprise, like the one that said, "Our class is so spoiled." What an interesting way of looking at it.

Another comment came from many students, how annoying the ones are who talk through teaching or reading time. It is wonderful to be reminded of how many do want to learn and do respect the learning process.

I think one of my favorites is Nate's. His was about fear and love making respect. I think that's a pretty good combination. I will try to keep that in the forefront of my teaching time. I think the key is having just the right amount of each.

There were many, many comments that will stay with me, and need to stay with me, as I begin to teach next year.

Thank you to all who took the time yesterday to help me be a better teacher. It's appreciated!

...good and thought-provoking comments!

I've read through them all and managed to get them down to about 30 to put here on the blog.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What do you a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?

A teacher!

That was one of the great comments that came to me today off of the blog post. Another said, "Less preachin' and more teachin'" One said I need to be stricter and another said to chill more. One called this class spoiled and some wanted technology brought into learning--and am thinking how we could do that more--how can I bring in cell phones? I know they're working on using twitter some in the high school, but right now I can't get people to comment on my blog!

Tomorrow I'll post some of the comments.

For the most part students liked my ideas for next year. Good. I will use the comments to think on and to let the new 8th graders think. It's always good to have more than one perspective. Maybe we'll spend a class period going over them the first day, yes? What do you think? Should I do that? Or, is that boring?

Inclass book report tomorrow. I am really looking for specifics off the front once you have figured out your statement. Up the hill of knowledge alone, only to bring the reader in when you go back down. (My metaphor for the day)

Friday, May 22, 2009

A post

...I've been working on all week.

Looking at the past… to prepare for the future.

I started the year wanting to quell questions. Previously, I had noticed that students had learned not to listen but to then ask questions at individual work time. Do you remember the start of the year?

I seemed tough (or, maybe I was tough), but I think for many of you, as the year went on, you found that I was, well, not really a pussy cat, but maybe a dog whose bark really was worse than its bite (meaning I sounded tough, but that I wasn’t so bad).

Many students have grown in thinking before asking or asking another before asking me. I am proud of those who have, and pleased with the growth I’ve seen. When I see a student stop and think and not ask a question, or when a student comes up and tells me they have asked others but there is confusion, it’s wonderful! That shows that you can think and take charge of your learning.

So, here it’s the end again, and I know my work next year: responsibility and respect. I want students to take responsibility and have respect for their learning. Too many students have not taken the responsibility to grow and learn nor shown respect to the learning process.

Some anecdotes and statistics:
• Every class has a student, or more, who comes to English with no paper, pen, or pencil. (And yet, every day pencils are on the ground and broken.)
• On one grading paper, for the comment on the last 4 out of 6 poems, I wrote, “no pencil,” a rule from day one! (With a week to do the assignment)
• Many students have handwriting that is barely legible…and none have a disability for it. None.
• Students consistently talk when they want to, to whom they want to, and right through the bell ringing or me talking.
• Bathroom use is now during class, instead of between classes.
• Handing in work without a reminder is almost nonexistent.
• Typing of papers or neat, final drafts occur less and less.
• Proper headings? For the most part, gone.
• Papers, books and notebooks are left anywhere.
• Used papers are dropped to the floor or left on the desk.
• Quiet reading or writing days? Seldom. There usually are one or two or more who feel they can do what they want and as loudly as they want.
• When I ask a student to do something when they’ve misbehaved? I often have to ask 3 or 4 times; the students have learned to ignore reprimands.
• Classroom rules? Does the concept of rules exist for our students anymore?
• And, finally, this week after two days of in-class time and one model we worked on together, 33 students did not have their essay for me. That’s more than a third of the class! Today? 4 students turned in late work for a 60.

Does that list sound petty? Mean? Too much to ask of 8th graders? I think it shows a lack of responsibility and respect, two key ingredients to life. And, I’m not even talking about a lack of responsibility or respect in terms of my 28 years of teaching. I can see a trend from just four years ago.

Four years ago, I had two students, Mic and Charles, who would work and discuss their essays during the week, handing in a thoughtful, typed paper which was in-depth and interesting. That same year I had students who spent time and effort writing 2 typed pages of work that was thoughtful and insightful. The next year, I had Liz, who learned to start her essay on Sunday, reread it on Tuesday and finish it on the weekend. Again, many in the 11th grade class consistently typed their papers of one or two pages. Today? Messy, quickly written papers are the norm rather than the exception.

So, what’s happened? Three years ago, we had problems with MySpace. Then, it was ipods, and now it is phones that can do anything. How can teachers compete in a society that has internet, texting, and twitter, all on phones?

How can teachers get students to concentrate on learning when society has us all living in the moment, but certainly not the moment that the body is in; instead, we live for the next virtual meeting.

I see students go to a track meet, only to walk around texting. I see people out walking with one person but talking on a phone to others. Some of you have parents who call when I am trying to teach!

Me in the front of the room and teaching? That’s nothing of interest to some of you today.

And excuses! “I didn’t hear,” “I didn’t remember to take the paper home,” “I forgot,” “I didn’t understand,” “I’ll give it to you later today…or tomorrow…or when I finish the book,” or “I didn’t feel like doing it.”
My goodness!

Or, maybe it’s how young we keep our kids today. “He’s only 14,” “They’re immature; they’ll grow,” “You’re too tough.” Geesh! At what age do we hold students accountable? At 10, 14, 23? (see attached article)

I’ve done my part. I do understand where education is today and how busy students can be. I hand out work and give you a week to do it. I explain what to do and we do things more than once, giving you time to learn from my comments. I understand if you can’t get it done, and I give a grade for breathing and then expect you to do the next one. I give freebies, ‘best and last’ grades, replacement grades, and grades that allow you out of the next assignment. I think I am a fair and interesting teacher who is not out-of-touch with her students. I am a tough teacher but a teacher who is on your side.

So, my goal next year will be to draw the line in the sand.
No pen or pencil? Sit there.
Done in pencil? 60, as in “Try… to follow directions”
Didn’t bring your book? Do a reading comp.
Can’t stop talking? Teach yourself.

This sounds tough. And, it will be; it will be tough for me to be that tough. But, it is my job: giving students the tools to be successful.

I have enjoyed this class. You know that. Even when I’m angry and disappointed with you, I like you. You are pleasant people. You take my lectures, and you don’t tune out. There has been growth. And, if you’ve done your work and tried, you’re passing. (Some of you are even passing without having tried all that much nor with much outside work. I find that sad.)

Most will move on to 9th grade. Maybe next year responsibility and respect will take hold for the ones who haven’t learned it yet.

Now I have to learn and grow and realize that I can’t make anyone do. Anger, reasoning, nor joking will make students do. I have to step back, sit down and let students take responsibility and learn respect.

It is often the end where we learn for the next beginning. I am learning what I need to do next year. Here’s hoping you will also.

Next week you will have the job of commenting on this post, and I will use them to start the next year. Many of you have felt my frustration of the last few weeks. I am frustrated by the lack of growth on some students' parts.

That doesn't mean all students are this way that I write about; it means some are, but enough that I want to work on it next year.

When you comment in the margins next week? Let me know how you feel, whether I'm right or wrong, what you feel as a good student who has to listen to me be frustrated and as a student who needs to grow what I can do better.

I still love teaching. But, as a good teacher, which I hope I am, I have to change with my students. I do believe we need more respect and responsibility given to our students at an earlier age ... or we will have more and more articles like this one. (NO, no, no...I am not saying students will become drug addicts and bottle crashers....but I am saying that it takes respect and responsibility to be the best you can be...and then you could be like my other student in that article: the assistant DA, a contributing member of our society!

You are at the end of your time with me. Lucky you. We've grown, laughed, learned, gone on. Here's hoping your time here was worthwhile.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Last night

...and the Art Show.

It was wonderful!

I'm always amazed by what students can do. I took lots and lots of pictures for the newspaper, but I also wanted to put some on here.

I am lucky to work in a place where viewing great work is a bonus to my job. (And, I got a terrific dinner also!)

Thank you for a relaxing and amazing night of art work.

Friday, May 15, 2009


..from Science Night '09.

Click and enjoy!(actually, I've now tried...and it seems I have no sound. Gosh, I love me with technology!! Still, you get to see people move!) It was a great night of boas, little chicks (not near each other), goats and a hamster (who bit Mrs. Hume, heehee).
There were displays, power points and movies. There was literature

(High schoolers used the Lorax by Dr. Suess)

and humor. There were explosions, cookies and murder scenes. It was great! I am so glad I witnessed it all this year.

Thanks go to the science dept. and the maintenance and administrative people for helping and supporting. Of course, thanks go to all students too, the willing participants in learning.

I loved it!

High and beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyond. The two guys below?

They could drive me nuts last year. Chad? He was impooooooooooooooooooooooooooooosible. There were days when I loved him, and then there were many days when I couldn't possible tolerate one more day of his mouth, his joking, his lack of focus.

But, you know what? He grew up. He comes to visit us now and every one of us likes to see him. We always knew Chad had the potential to be a great person...because he WAS a great person--he just had to grow up a little bit.

I have so many of you who I look forward to seeing in a year or so. You will be young men and women who have figured out who you want to be and what you want to be. That doesn't mean you'll be perfect; it'll mean that you'll be growing, a little bit more focused and maybe a little bit more respectful while still being able to be yourself and joke. Trust me: Chad is no less a jokester!!

Also, in high school it'll be your responsibility to be sure your schedule is right and best for you. Mrs. Pomeroy talked to you about that today.

Well, actually, she came in to introduce your high school career options; I'm the one who said it's your responsibility.

I listen every year to this presentation and every year I am amazed at the students and how interested you all are to move on. Stay this focused, this interested.

Elementary ed. and Middle school ed. are teacher directed, for the most part. It is in high school where students truly start to take charge, be mature and focused. Enjoy the chance to learn and to learn what you want to learn. Oh, there are still classes you will need to take, but more and more, it becomes what you want.

My biggest concern is that you realize that no one in high school is really looking out that you have what you need to graduate; it's up to you. There's no more seat time with summer school. There's only credits to get, courses to pass and knowledge to learn.

Middle school it almost behind you. I will stay behind and you will move forward. It happens every year. I will miss you, but I will also enjoy watching you grow. I'm just one year in your education. I matter little; you matter so much more. Do what it takes and enjoy it!