Category Archives: That Kid

They’re Still Kids

Last night while I worked the booth at our football game and we played against an inferior team, a parent said to me “how can they be playing so badly?”

I replied, “They’re kids.”

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Yes, our team is more athletic, better coached (I’d argue), and more practiced, but a high school football team is made up of 14-18 year-old kids. If you’ve ever worked with teens, you know that even the most intelligent students can be emotional, rash, and mistake-prone. They are not perfect. They err. If they were perfect, they wouldn’t need to be in school.

If you’ve ever coached high school football, you also know that anything can happen in a high school game, especially the first game of the season when the kids get their first taste of hitting an opponent instead of their teammates. The kids can be overly driven by emotion, feel overconfident, revert to bad habits that you’ve worked on in practice, and more.

This is just like the classroom. I have taught my students how to use advanced skills when writing their essays, provided feedback, sat one-on-one with kids, and given multiple practices and then watched my students ignore all of that teaching, coaching, and practicing when writing the very next essay. We then have to go back to those previous skills–the ones they already showed me they could perform–and remind, re-teach, and review.

Sometimes kids are just kids.

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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.

Suicide Scores?

An L.A. teacher’s published test scores are cited as a contributing factor in his apparent suicide. Is it possible that publishing his test scores and labeling him below average helped push him over the edge? Possibly. I don’t know.

What I do know, though, is that teaching is more stressful than ever before, and taking on the toughest students in a school will not lead to the best test scores. This could unfairly label highly effective students.

I have a girl in my Sophomore English class right now who attends class; she does very little work, but she attends every day. According to her Freshman English teacher, this is a marked improvement and she complimented me on keeping her attending. She called it a step in the right direction.

While I don’t think I am the reason she attends, I do think she and I are slowly building a positive rapport. Will it be enough to make her care, try, and succeed? Maybe.

Regardless, she will not win me any effective teacher points on a state test.

My Admission of Guilt

I’d love to say the graph below represents my students, but it was me today. My head bobbed twice today during a student’s paper reading. However, in my defense, the kid’s monotone almost sent me off to dreamland.

Fortunately, the next student was fantastic and kept me riveted. I’m taking credit for the second kid. 🙂