These children are not smart.
Okay, no, not every single one. A couple are. But too many aren't!
I have a really hard time figuring out and then accepting the level these kids are on. This year my "high-level" class is about on grade level. Their homework and quiz scores and class performance show that. The other two classes do significantly worse and are significantly slower. They have trouble with the fifth-grade vocabulary and so must be operating on roughly a fourth-grade level--in sixth grade. The class, as a whole, not a select few.
Some things I make myself remember that it's not their fault. Things like grammar and spelling have been shunned in school during their lifetime. (The people who made that decision really ARE stupid. I hope they're happy when we have a nation of adults who can't read, write or spell effectively or efficiently. Grr. Get off my porch, you young whippersnappers with your rock and roll!) So the fact that they have no foundation and basic knowledge in these areas is not their fault. It's the system which has failed them (on purpose, but whatever, I suppose one could argue that's a matter of opinion).
And I'm not talking about the ones who have real issues, or even the ones that are behind. Even the low level ones are paying close attention and really trying to do well. That's something else. I'm talking about the kids who have no sense and who just don't pay attention.
Anyway, so when they are trying to learn these new things, and I do my best to connect it to things they already know, and show them step by step, and they just do stupid things.
That fantastic worksheet with irregular verb families--that was my tool today to learn the patterns for present-past-participle forms. For each first one, I had the kids supply the form and the pattern. See? Words they already knew, and patterns that were easy and made sense. Participation, ownership, confidence, etc.
Then they were to fill in the chart with the rest of the verbs in that same pattern. Most very good! Lots of praise to the kiddies.
For the pattern like "awake-awoke-awoken" I saw answers that sounded German and Dutch.
(that I will very grudgingly forgive--for now!--because many of them are so low level they don't know about doubling consonants. Yet. But they better start fixing it and paying some freaking attention to their spelling.)
(Um, no. Just, no. What is the correct word? You know this already, I promise!)
and the best (except worst) that was ALL TOO COMMON?!
What the f*ck?!
For pete's sake, look at your paper! Read the word! PAY ATTENTION!!
Every single child in the room has been in a grocery store. Grocery stores have food in a freezer. IT IS NOT A FROOZEN FOOD SECTION!!
When I burst out with this particular sentence during my last class, they all got the giggles. Hee hee! Froozen food! Tee hee!
Me, in my head, rolling my eyes: What in the world am I dealing with here?
I don't think there is enough patience in the world for this. Instead, I think I have to make myself just forget and ignore things, and try to move on.
And FINE, none of them are actually stupid or dumb. Gah, I know I can't say that and that I'm going to hell for even thinking it. I don't really believe they're idiots. Senseless goofs, some of them, yes. LOTS of them are really low level and that makes me very nervous, because I really don't know if anything I do helps.
This year I think I'm getting better at finding those lower-level ones and targeting them for improvement. Right now that only entails a couple extra worksheets to reinforce things, and repeated desk visits during work periods to check on and review basics. Actually, I think I am seeing some improvement from at least a couple of them. I just worry because there's so much they don't know. I need to keep taking one step at a time and keeping an eye on their work.
Another thing I want to try is Experts. I noticed in the homework I graded this weekend that literally only a handful of kids really grasped and mastered the verb tense and usage. So besides full-class reinforcement, I was thinking about moving the Master Verb kids around the tables to help the others. Doesn't that sound fun?
Along with that, I think I'm going to have to go back to once-weekly skill grouping. Gah, too much to think about when we don't have a copier at our disposal. (I heard that a new one is coming soon. I just hope it happens. And I don't see why the old one can't get moved so we can have TWO working copiers. Gosh, what a concept!)
Moral of this post:
- NO, I'm not a bitter commie monster (ooh, great name for a blog!) who hates children or calls names;
- YES, I'm a human being who gets frustrated;
- ALSO YES, I'm a teacher who CARES about what the students are learning and who wants them to actually LEARN something, which requires them to pay attention, and me to work hard to monitor their progress.