runester wrote:How much of "they just don't get it and they just don't care" did you experience and how did you deal with that?
That sound you hear right now? That's me trying not to cry.
I deal with a ton of it. This will be different, depending on the school, but Rantoul is rife with it. We have a poor community with a lot of parents who don't instill in their children any intrinsic (or extrinsic) motivation for school. I have a lot of kids and parents who, quite simply, don't care. I have kids who are happy to get a D- because it means they won't have to take the class over again or get yelled at. Basically, as long as it's not a problem they or their parents have to deal directly with, it doesn't matter.
And what's frustrating is how much that can interfere with those students who do care and would like to be challenged more.
Right now, I've had the most frustrating semester I've ever dealt with. It wasn't the worst behaved. It wasn't the one with the most problems. Because Senior English (or at least the credit) is now required to graduate, Senior English is no longer an elective and everyone has to take it. The higher-functioning students went into Multi-Cultural Lit or Dual Credit (both taught by my boss) or AP English, leaving me as the only English 4 teacher. I have never had a lower-functioning group, as a whole. We used to whip through Beowulf's abridged length in the amount of time it took us to get through just Grendel and The Battle with Grendel. A ton of things I wanted to do had to be put by the wayside this year.
And trying to pry 'give-a-damn' out of kids who have no reason to care is soul crushing.
When people are trying, I modify and change things to help those who have difficulties understanding. I work on finding ways to help them get it.
When they don't care, at all, there's less you can do.
Do you have a tool, technique, or approach that you would recommend to teachers that really got through and fired up your students? Something that moved students out of the "I have to be here but I'm too cool to care" stance?
There is no singular tool or technique. It depends on the subject, the class, and the students.
My acting classes get crammed with people who "act out in other classes but I think will do well with you." I've used Smallville's Character Creation system as a way to get them to give depth to characters for extended long-form improvisations in a way that tricked them into doing work. I've also used judiciously redacted Fiasco playsets to get them out of their normal comfort zones for Improvisations, as well.
With English, I've brought in Ender's Game and Shadow Over Innsmouth to get their interest. I've worked to bring ideas from Frankenstein into using their own favorite media, analyzing what a monster of theirs might learn if it were to take one book, one movie, one tv series, and one CD from them. I try to keep writing prompts varied and centered enough on their ideas to keep them going.
There are other things we've done, but it's really a lesson-to-lesson thing.
Bribes work. My Theatre Arts class loved playing Coup and they studied like crazy to play it after we reviewed for the final. English classes enjoyed Mafia.
I used to do a Diplomacy game between my Honor's Freshman and my Seniors, which was a mixed bag. Between two Honor's classes, it worked better. It got them writing for purpose and with specificity that they wouldn't otherwise use. It also got them working formally.
Is teaching in a public school setting as much of a bureaucratic mess as it's often portrayed?
Yes, and it's becoming more of a pain. We have to keep track of RTI (Response to Intervention) and IEPs and modifications to tests and parent contacts and lesson plans and reflections....almost all of which have been added in the last few years. The amount of paperwork we have to do has skyrocketed and gets in the way of actual teaching.