The ideal type of learner for me: the student who is struggling, doesn’t love math, vaguely interested, awake, but respectful and sort of willing to try. I don’t need a kiss-ass participator and I actually prefer students who have a harder time reaching solutions. The point of me saying this is that I like the challenging students, I like the ones that “don’t get it.” But right now, I don’t know how to reach this particular class that is full of “don’t get its” and more disheartening “don’t care, give-ups.”
This class is behind, very very very behind and extremely discouraged and disengaged. Almost all of them are failing, they take no responsiblity for their academic work (i.e. admittedly do not study/complete homework yet blame me), and during class time they refuse to stay awake or participate in any way (complete classwork, ask questions). Many fall asleep and even when I wake them up seconds later are back asleep (there are grading punishments for sleeping but their grades suffer anyway when they don’t pay attention so I’d prefer if they’d just stay awake!!).
Initially, this class gave me the greatest behavioral troubles. I wasn’t able to teach them for the first few days because there were so many outbursts and issues that I had to focus more on throwing kids out, disciplining or setting up classroom expectations. Finally I have gotten the classroom to a place of kind of respectfulness but now I want to it to be a place of learning. I want to help them, I don’t want to give up on them but there are so many issues inside this one class period that I’m at a loss for where to begin. Do I structure my lessons differently? Do I go slower? Do I….?!?!
Last week on Tuesday we got a call from the Dept. head that the students would be taking the PSAT the next day, so switch gears and focus on that for the day (oh hey – just forget that quiz you were going to give today!). First of all, WTF, help with a huge test and strategies in one day? Second, most of these students will not be going to college (we are a mainly vo-tech school) and this test will only discourage and frustrate them since they are so unprepared. As suspected, Thursday one student (in that class) came in fuming that nothing he learned in this school helped him on that stupid test, what a f-ing waste, blah blah blah.
All of my students in that period were crushed. They said they couldn’t answer a single question on the test and it was heartbreaking. Some students looked like they were going to cry while others (student above) turned to anger. They were unable to focus on the quiz review and ultimately unable to pass the quiz on Friday.
This is not the first time the class has failed a quiz. I offer quiz corrections to earn half of the points you miss back — the only caveat (to prevent cheating and encourage learning) is you must explain the error/show all work to get the right answer. Not one student in that period did the quiz corrections. (To be fair out of all 60 students only 5 did corrections and many many more should have).
On Monday I want to start the week right. I’m giving the quiz back and I want to make corrections mandatory. We will also be starting the next topic which is estimation for the next two days. I want to build their self-esteem back up a little bit but according to the co-op this area is very challenging for these students. I want to get them back involved in mathematics. I want to bring them back (actually, I don’t think I ever had this period). I really want to help them but I’m just not sure where to begin.
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