Saturday, March 31, 2012

Not All Students Are Created Equally

I covered two classes in the college on Thursday.  The subject was the same and the students had similar prerequisites to get into the class.  On paper, the exact same students were in each class.  Notice the emphasis on the word paper.

The first class greeted me with, "Wow, he's out.  We have a free day."  I told them that wasn't true.  I was there to teach and would do the lesson the teacher left.  The kids sat down, took out their homework assignment, asked questions and then enthusiastically participated in the lesson.  The class ended at 5:50 and they were willing to stay and have me do some more with them but, as I had another class, I had to leave.  They all thanked me and said they hoped to have a class with me in the future.  I felt so good and was hyped for next class.

The second class greeted me with "Wow, she's out. We can go home."  Again, I said I was there to teach and would do the lesson the teacher left.  They grudgingly walked in and sat down.  Three left as soon as they signed an attendance sheet.  I made sure everyone knew their names were crossed out.  I asked if there were any homework questions to go over.  They said the teacher never gives homework which I knew was not true.  I began teaching and another one got up to leave so another name got crossed off.  Several students participated orally, three took notes but most had their faces glued to their cell phones.  A girl got up after 30 minutes, announced, "I'm Bridgette, cross me off the list" and walked out.  A boy walked in after 45 minutes, announced he usually cuts and has no idea what should be going on in class, stayed 15 minutes and left.  They told me they were going to have a quiz on Tuesday. I said I would review if they told me what was going to be on it.  One girl knew.  The others were clueless.  I'm surprised they even knew there was going to be a test.  They just wanted to leave.  A boy said "It's only a quiz, it doesn't count for much."  I ended up letting them go 15 minutes early.  It wasn't worth the effort holding them any longer.

Two classes, one teacher, successful in one and an utter failure in the other. If it had been a high school class and an administrator had stuck his nose in that second class, I would be history.  Thankfully that is not the case in the college.  No one looks over your shoulder constantly.  They hire people they have faith in and know are good at their jobs.  They know the classes are mixed bags and sometimes you get a rotten bunch.  The teacher is not held accountable for the behavior, attitude and eventual failure of the kids in their classes. 

When I first started teaching I worked for an AP that knew teachers couldn't perform the miracles we are expected to perform today.  Our school was rough and our stats weren't good.  She knew we did the best we could with the kids we had to work with. It is time to go back to thinking like this AP thought.

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