Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Argh! and, Failure!

I have a select few students who don' No homework, the teensiest bit of classwork, and the rest of the time are either spacing out or distracting somebody.

I'm ready to tear my hair out. They seem to have zero remorse or regret. Everyday during homework collection: "I don't have it." or the student excuse/lie: "I forgot it." "Zero!" is my response.

The two worst ones are getting on my nerves even more because I can't get ahold of a parent. I've tried three times in the last two days, and nada.

I've left three voicemails for one over the last two weeks, and of course I haven't gotten a call or seen any improvement. At least that student is a helpful and polite boy (and he apparently works really hard in math!), always joining the lunch crews with projects helping me.

The other one I just can't stand. Which makes me a terrible person. Because he really has a blank look on his face about homework and failing. I pulled him aside last week to tell him about his current status of failing, and talked to him about setting aside time to work on it. He nodded, and of course nothing came of it.

My patience with this bullshit has waned during the years, and it's about gone with some of this year's group. I'm about to give up on them!

I was trying to figure out why it makes me angry that they are failing themselves. I suppose because part of me feels like I'm failing too, or something. But when they have an opportunity to succeed every day in class, and every night for homework, and they repeatedly shun that opportunity, there's only so much I can do.

So I think for my sanity I have to just stop, and ignore it, and be sad for them. I feel like taking the contact issue to the dean or something, because nothing frustrates me more than not even getting to talk to a parent. Maybe I can have her send a letter or something? I don't know.


This afternoon was the first session of the after-school tutoring that I decided to do (hurrah for the prospect of breaking even/saving each month!). They asked me to do eighth-grade, since no 8th grade teachers volunteered for it. I agreed, but now I'm groaning. Because of course many of them (I think ten or eleven showed up) pulled some kind of attitude, or did nothing. A half-hour into the 1 1/2 hour session, we got the workbooks that we'll be using. (Double hurrah for a scripted curriculum book!) FOUR students didn't do a damn thing, and two of them were leaning over and doodling at each other. I actually kicked them out.

Then I remembered that we are responsible for them until the end of the session, and so I called the AP. She came down and gave them a stern chat about shape up or go home. Which I had said several times already to the whole group.

Because holy shit, I'm not going to baby-sit them, and I'm not going to put up with attitude or laziness. It's an optional program, so be here if you want help and want to work and do something. Otherwise, get out! Argh!


I'm not as pissy today as this makes me sound. Those are just the issues that ended my day, so they're still bubbling away near the surface.

Today was a very busy day, which always leaves me frazzled anyway. I had a coverage, but it was for one of my own classes, and the one that I should have only seen one period. Plus my room happened to be empty that period, so I brought them in and we did the lesson and it was fine.

But then it was lunch--after three classes in a row--and a bunch of kids were in there, hanging around and following me around like ducklings wanting something to do. Don't get me wrong, I love student helpers, and I really need them. But I'm crazy enough on my own with my lists of things needing to be done. At lunchtime things get even crazier with all the kids.

One girl was entering book titles and authors into Excel. Two other girls were starting off the class newsletter. Both had to get started on the computer.

Then a bunch of kids were helping fill out library cards for all my books. I'd thought they were getting close to the end, but then I saw five more bins. Wow, I have a ton of books. Sweet.

One thing that's annoying is that they all are totally helpless--they can't figure out anything on their own. So they just sit there, making noise (which REALLY irritates me when it's supposed to be my lunch period and free time from the noise!), waiting around to be told what to do. Argh!

Then two other students--who are both really needy--the ones actually trailing me around--wanted to do something else. They 'helped' me unpack the two boxes of book orders that just came in. I got some really great stuff, I am so excited. So are the children, of course.

Anyway, so I tried to set them up with labeling/categorizing the books, and when I asked about a book and its genre, they were both completely off. There was no way I could sit there and wait or even be patient. We talked about genre AT LENGTH the other day, it's in their books, the things are still up on the wall, and they just have NO.FUCKING.CLUE about anything!

I just cannot deal with that!


So THEN, I had to teach three more classes!

I was going to go a little loco by the time the bell finally rang. Thankfully, last period I had off, and had my room to myself. I got a chance to mark some homework, and continue marking the crest projects.


I liked what we did today. We did verbs and also an intro to folktales.

For verbs, before we actually talked about verbs, I made them write and repeatedly recite the speech sentence (pr#tty a*rdvarks n#ver vote in cr#mbling p!nk arenas). Then we reviewed what part of speech each stood for.

Then we quickly defined verbs, and I showed them infinitive and conjugation. I told them that it won't really make sense yet, but it will. I left it at that.

Next I told them to come up with as many verbs at their table in one minute. They shared a list of ten or so. They were things like, walk, play, jump, run, kick, swim, eat, dance.

So I had a great idea while we were there. I said, okay, NOW, come up with some synonym verbs--other verbs meaning about the same thing.

And they did great! They came up with things like slither (for crawl), shove, creep, devour, boogie. When we had at least one for each, I said, wow, look at THESE verbs! Aren't these much more vivid? Can't you get a clear picture in your mind of what this looks like or feels like? They agreed. I said to keep this in mind, because we're going to use vivid verbs like this in our writing.

Then we went into a grammar textbook (hurrah! it's okay to do that without being all furtive!) to practice identifying verbs. They did well. I also talked them through finding the subject too. I think most of them understood. A couple really did not, though. Guess I need to find extra stuff to help them.

Anyway, that was that and we moved on to folktale.

I started by reading The Tortoise and the Hare, complete with "the moral of this story is slow and steady wins the race."

I asked if anyone knew what kind of story it was, and some kids had already heard of fables. Others tried to answer my question of "what kind of story is this?" with things like "fiction" or "fantasy." I'd already showed them and told them that we were doing folktale, which is a separate thing from regular fiction. There are even different displays for the genre board! PAY ATTENTION!!

Argh. Anyway.

They understood the purpose and characteristics of fables: short stories that teach a lesson, using animals as characters.

Then I read them the story of Demeter and Persephone. You know, Hades kidnaps Persephone and Demeter (her mother) is distraught, looking for her and mourning, and ignoring her earth-growing-goddess duties. Eventually Hades agrees to "share" Persephone, so the time she's with him, Dememter is sad and nothing grows--it's winter. When Persephone is back on Earth with her mom, things are green and fruitful--spring and summer. Ta-da!

Soon they got that it was a myth (NOT historical fiction, you ninnies! What did I tell you about PAYING ATTENTION?) and that it explains how something came to be.

Then I showed them a couple other books to get them to define fairy tales, tall tales, and legends. Hoo boy, like pulling teeth with these ones. I can't take it. I really make an effort to make things clear and slow so everyone can proceed together, but even that doesn't seem to matter. ARGH!

Anyway, so we had a little time for an activity. I cut up three fables and distributed them among tables. They had to read the fable, and with their partner decide what the moral is.

After a few minutes, I had a student read the fable aloud, and we had a discussion about the morals and why they thought them. It was meh at best.


And that is the end, because I am winding myself up and it's almost 9.30, which means my day is only another hour longer. I really need to be calming down and relaxing, so that I'm not tossing with school-mares and student anxiety all night.

Happy thoughts, lalala.

I think I'm going to Australia this summer with that student travel program. Woohoo! I haven't been there before, and I'm just really excited that it seems to be working out so quickly already. I'm not even sure if it's final or real or anything yet. But cool nonetheless. Something fun to think about and imagine and all that good stuff.

Plus, London and Paris in February! Whee! We agreed with the commenters that trains will be a better option, for time and efficiency. And also the adventure factor, which I totally agree with, and hadn't quite put into words yet. Good job.

Wednesdays are when all the travel emails come out, so I always spend some time looking around to see if anything is interesting and cheap enough. Usually not, but I do love to think about it and fantasize about it, if only for a minute or two.

Okay really, SHUT UP, me! God!

1 comment:

mr. e said...

My wife is having the same problem (kids not doing anything), so she just started a "program" where all kids with a D or F have to come after school for extra time to work on their grade. One kid said "Isn't that like detention?", and with a big smile she said "No, because we'll be doing fun english stuff" or something equally full of BS. She just had parent teacher conferences and most of her parents are refreshingly concerned with thier kids lack of progress, so this program has the added benifit of addressing their concerns. It's still too early to see if it will work.

Good luck with your own slackers.