15 February 2007

Stuck in the Middle with You

I felt stuck in the middle recently. In the same day, I received a plea for help from a less experienced teacher...and a request from the one who encouraged me to be a science teacher and helped me get my start. Am I really at a stage in my career where I'm in the educators' version of The Sandwich Generation?

The newer teacher's letter is a bit more heart-breaking.

I am really struggling with getting my students to produce anything at all in their class. I have a few students who work. But it is very few. I have some students who fly through assignments, get them done in the 10 minutes it should take and then are loud and disruptive because they are finished. I have other students who do not even begin to do anything. A grade is not a motivation for them, they have seen their grades, they have heard me talk about them, etc.

I have assigned seats a few different times this semester, tried collecting work at the end of every period instead of having them turn it in to a folder, giving them weekly quizzes over the material that we cover in class. I can't even get them all to face me and be quiet at the same time, let alone the 5 minutes it takes to explain an assignment.

Do you have any ideas for me? I am going crazy!

I am putting together some ideas and resources for her and heading out to see her after school today. However, there is definitely a wealth of experience out there in the edusphere---and I know that many of you reading this have been in a similar situation. If you have some words of wisdom to share, please send me a note or leave a comment to pass along to the teacher. It's a long time until school's out on June 22nd.

My mentor is in an entirely different time and situation.

Your mom sent me your e-mail so I could ask you for the information on the example of an enzyme using the camel story. I can remember everything except the fractions. Of course it doesn't work if you cannot remember the punch line!!

I am still retired, but working with the M-------- school district to help them raise their TAKS scores. They were low last year and were mandated by TEA to get some help. MJ M----- is working with the math teachers. I don't know if we will make much difference or not. They certainly have a unique set of problems. 60 students K-12 for one--few teachers teaching as many as 7 preparations--a few bad apples for teachers, but among about 15 teachers, it doesn't take many bad ones to spoil the whole bunch--stir up trouble, etc. It's a mess. Those tests are hard, in my opinion, and it takes more than a few months to teach the students all that material. In other words I think in a few years we might make a difference, but don't think the state will wait that long to consolidate them with our schools. The little town would die without their school so I hope we can help.

The example she's referring to is one of my favourites to teach...something to share in the next post, perhaps. Anyway, two very different situations from three of us in very different parts of our careers/lives. I suppose this is a wake-up call: my sandwich is ready.

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