Category Archives: Frustration

The Copy Machine Deserves A Beating

We have a copy machine for teacher use, but it may be haunted or demon-possessed like the mangler from the film with the eponymous title. I have used it exactly 12 times this year (I usually make all of my copies during the weekend), and the copier has broken down or become massively jammed exactly 11 times.

office-space-copier

I feel like Michael Bolton inĀ Office Space and want to give that copier a piece of mind (and my baseball bat).

However, having said that, if this is my biggest beef at this point in the year, it’s a pretty darn good school year. šŸ™‚

The Identification Test

I tend to give my students identification tests where the students must do three things with each person, item, or idea:

  • (1) identify the person, item, or idea and its place in the story;
  • (2) explain the importance of theĀ person, item, or idea; and
  • (3) connect theĀ person, item, or idea to a major theme in the story or to a literary device.

An excellent student example for The Bastille would be:

(1) The Bastille was a famous French prison known for its harsh conditions and for the number of prisoners unjustly sent there. (2)Ā Dr. Manette was unjustly imprisoned in the Bastille for 18 years, and when the prison was destroyed Monsieur Defarge ran to 105 N. Tower looking for a buried paper. (3)Ā The Bastille became a symbol of the noblesā€™ power and cruelty before and during the French Revolution; when it was destroyed, it became celebrated like our Independence Day.

Generally, the students do an excellent job of this, and this type of test hits on all sorts of state and local standards.

However, I gave four classes a test of identifications and three classes had an average of a B+ or better, but the fourth had a C average. This fourth class was one of feast or famine with A grades or F grades up and down the roster. The reason for their low scores is obvious; namely, most of the students in this class refused to study and did little to nothing to prepare.

Now comes the hard part: what do I do about this? Do I force them to keep their scores knowing that they did little to study? Do I provide an opportunity for the students to earn back some of the points by retaking the test?

I tend to vote for a chance to retake the test, but I need the students to prove they have prepared prior to taking the second exam.

What would you do?

Aaaaaaaaaargh! Frustration Rules the Day!

Copier

Copiers down: 2

Copiers I can access: 2

Copies made: 2

Copies needed: 320

Our copiers have gone down three straight weekends (besides the numerous times during the week). I’m not normally copy-dependent, but I have assessments to give upon which I base my goals for the year. My goals are due this week, and the online system is also down. This means I might have been able to administer the assessments online with some fancy rejiggering, but now I’m a bit stuck.

E-mails to my evaluator asking for extended time: 1

What?! No Grammar?!

Today I had the sudden realization that my Juniors don’t know what a noun, adjective, verb, or adverb is. We were working with new vocabulary words and I was trying to have them transform a word from one part of speech to another when all I saw was a sea of blank faces. It wasn’t the vacant stare of those who don’t care; it was the stare of impassive faces who can’t admit they have no idea what a noun does. At least the guy in the cartoon got past the basics!

cartoon Grammar

We then spent the next 20 minutes reviewing using a simple chart I drew on the board, and they did eventually get it when I drew arrows (adjectives with arrows pointing to what is described and adverbs pointing to verbs and so on). They color-coded the chart and arrows, and they submitted an exit ticket with sentences of their own creation with the parts correctly labeled. They got it.

However, why don’t they really have it?

They’ve been taught this multiple times over the years since elementary school. One of my colleagues believes kids don’t master grammar because they aren’t ever really held accountable for knowing it. Another colleague thinks it’s a standard easily discarded for another more important one. One other colleague thinks it’s not taught because many of the teachers don’t know it well enough (and, sadly, I’ve seen some errors on the chalkboards in my neighbors’ classrooms).

But, what if it’s simply that students don’t care about grammar?

It’s not fun. It’s frustrating for many. It’s tedious. It’s really a set of rules that have to be memorized because there are so many exceptions.

I think my students put up with me teaching it because they like me, but I’m not sure how much they will recall once they leave my class and go on to the next one. Maybe this is what happens in many teachers’ rooms. I don’t know. What I do know is that my students dread grammar no matter how I teach it (poems, games, manipulatives, etc.), and every year I have to teach the basics again and again.

Surprising Question from a Student

When I conducted the activity I mentioned a couple days ago, one of the anonymous questions surprised (and interested) me.

A student asked: do you really care about your students’ educations or are you just here for the paycheck like my teachers last year?

However, in my head I thought that this was a student who hears bad things about teachers at home or had a very poor Freshman year experience at my school. I’m not sure which I hoped was the answer.

In truth, I’m guessing this student had a sad alignment of our least effective and driven teachers. We all know who the teachers are who would rather be buddies with kids than authority figures, those who want to be the new Video King, those who want to do as little as possible, and those who simply work the minimum number of hours and go home. Every school has them, and we would lobby to get our own kids into different teachers’ classes.

What saddened me, though, was this was a student who even thought that teachers perform their jobs for the money without caring about kids. How can a teacher not care about kids? It’s anathema to every piece of my teaching philosophy.

Day 4 of the school is tomorrow, and I want to start changing that student’s view on education and teaching.

Differentiation For Some

I’m always amazed that training sessions are never differentiated for staff even though the staff is expected to differentiate for kids. I guess only those in the classroom are required to teach all levels.

I’m grumpy after a full day of “learning” what I already know. šŸ˜¦