07 January 2007

Students - Deservers and Earners

A girl is caught with a note and quickly tears it up, blushing, as her classmates chant, “Read it!” The teacher tries to demonstrate simple machines by pulling from a box a hammer, a pencil sharpener and then, to her instant remorse, a nutcracker — the sight of which sends a cluster of boys into a fit of giggles and anatomical jokes. This NY Times article says it all about a tough day for teaching……

I am one of the lucky teachers cause I have had other successful careers, which allow me some experience to fall back on when the teaching gets tough.

Sure, we can say that every person in a career has a hard day now and then. When I was a project manager at IBM there were ridiculous days too … but I was sure getting compensated for those trying moments. When I ran an insurance business there were plenty of tough days and the same when I was a sheriff deputy …..

Yet teaching is so high profile since parents actually expect, unlike any other profession, that teachers can work magic with their kids … that is a big point. When is the last time a parent tried to teach their kid about ecology or history? Do parents even spend quality time with their kids these days? In fact, do parents even really discipline their kids? So teachers have this job to teach and discipline while students carry in their emotional and mental baggage from home ….…. I think there is a oversized expectation of EVERYONE that teachers have this magic dust we sprinkle on students and they just start behaving “correctly” since our classes are stuffed and the kids have to take numerous test cause lawmakers think that will help them understand why kids aren’t learning ……

I remember once when I was student teaching to get my certificate a parent called the school to complain that I wasn’t allowing the student to retake a quiz because he was absent – I was stricter then – and so I got a visit from the Assistant Principal (AP) to discuss my actions … yes I did recant and let the student take the quiz …. live and learn that’s a favorite mantra of mine.

There are two types of student as far as I can tell. One group thinks they deserve everything. The other group, which I prefer, thinks they have to earn what they get. You guessed it, the “deservers” think they start with an A. The “earners” understand they have to achieve an A. The “earners” remind me of my high school days … I get along with them much better.

What are your kids … what were you in high school … a deserver or an earner?

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