Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Entire Spectrum

My friend in the adjacent trailer had to take off two days to pick his own kids up from various schools. He is extremely conscientious and almost never misses a day. He was worried about missing is M4 class. The work is difficult and he has lost over a week because of all the times the trailers were closed. I told him not to worry, that I would cover the class so the kids wouldn't lose instructional time.

I forgot what a delight it is to teacher average, bright sophomores. This was not an honor class, just a class made up of tenth grade students taking the exact class they should be on level for. Yesterday's job was to review for an exam. He had given them a practice sheet to do for homework. When they came in, I passed out the solutions and they sat, with their own work and made corrections. We spent the rest of the time going over the problems that they did not understand. Every kid had the sheet with them. Most had done it, as required, at home. They asked good, thought out questions and left feeling well prepared for the exam. One girl wanted to go practice for her dance recital. I got pretty nasty with her (I know math is not her best subject) and refused to let her leave. First she complained, then she thanked me for making her do the work. Today they all showed up for the exam. Not one kid had to borrow a pen or a calculator. As I looked over their shoulders, I saw they knew exactly what they were doing.

Some of us spend too much time teaching at opposite ends of the spectrum. We all expect the honor and the AP kids to work like this all the time. The lower level kids almost never work like this. We need to remind ourselves that there are plenty of kids like these out there. These are the kind of kids we were in high school and that our own kids are now. When teachers complain about the caliber of the youth of today, they don't see these kids. To be a good teacher, we all need to teach all kinds of kids, all the time. Unfortunately, not too many of us get to experience the group I had the pleasure to be with this week.


Pissed Off Pedagogue said...

I would have thought I died and went to heaven....they had calculators and pens? Wow!! Unfortunately nice steady average kids are lost in the shuffle of "No Child Left Behind" and "Children First" which of course an oxymoron. I have to grade my kids on preparedness. Otherwise, they'd do their work in my math classes on the desk or a gum wrapper. I teach the crowd that has a tendency to fold that one subject spiral notebook and stick it into a back pocket of very baggy pants, and the girls have cell phones but no calculators or even a pen or pencil. Thanks for sharing an uplifting day with us!!

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

You are absolutely right: All kinds of kids, all the time.

Mostly, however, that's an in-your-dreams school you're talking about. (Sigh.)