Friday, February 6, 2009

The way NOT to teach (my rant).

I did not decide to become a teacher because of an inspirational mentor or exceptional teacher that touched my life. I remember as early as third grade thinking "If I was the teacher I would never do it like this." For example, giving a capable student a photo-copied packet of 20 worksheets to teach a lesson while they sit and read is not something a capable teacher should do, unless it's for punishment... which it might have been. Telling a student they're stupid in no uncertain terms is also something I wouldn't do. And letting a student do whatever they want to gain their approval and increase a teacher's "coolness" factor, not okay.

I'm working right now. I'm getting paid to babysit a bunch of students that get to do nothing all day. Let me repeat: ALLOWED to do NOTHING for SIX HOURS!!! Yep. A lesson plan for one class was to watch "Finding Nemo" or "The Incredibles", as long as they worked on something. "But he doesn't make us. We have nothing to do." In one class they spent an hour and a half playing on In another class they spent the entire time texting on their cell phones. Currently I have one on yearbook page, one playing a psp, and two texting to each other. NOTHING. They tell me they have no homework, no makeup work, no extra credit. And apparently this is normal, according to the kids AND the other teachers. "Oh, they have a 504, they don't do anything", like it's some excuse. What the hell? They get texts from teachers and view their face book pages. There is no Internet fire wall, or use policy.

They adore their teacher because he's young and cool. I get the impression they would do anything for him if he asked. I'm not sure he does. He's around 25 and they tell me he's written a memoir, they've read the intro, but they can't tell anyone because its "pretty R rated." Again, what the hell? But he won't be sticking around because he's not getting to teach what he wants.

It's apparent he has a lot of passion for diversity, tolerance, civil rights, Dave Matthews band, oasis, soccer, baseball, and Obama... which to go off on a side rant, I feel is completely inappropriate due to the impressionable minds of students. I believe that teachers, in a position of power, should not influence students, but teach them to look at political views and decide for themselves. Some of my students are still trying to figure out who I've voted for. I always strive for an open discussion of politics in my classroom, and to encourage them to find the truth. Also to be able to support and back up their views. One of my proudest moments was when my 8th graders put a MA state senator on the spot, telling him in Mrs. Rudd's room he had to support his statements. Which he did well, and taught them that even 8th graders can hold their public officials accountable. BUT, I digress...

He has written a 300+ page book sort of about his life? He's 25. His room looks like a teenage boy's, with posters of rock stars, sports giants and only one bookshelf full of text books, unless there's something in the cabinets... uncharacteristically I haven't snooped. I'll be right back...

His Internet history consists of sports, stocks and fishing sites... I'm bored to tears!!!! And I have an hour left...

So this is the teacher they warn you about. This is what is wrong. This is not okay. What are these students learning every day? It is okay. It is okay to not challenge yourself. It is okay to be spoon fed answers. It is okay to not work hard. What are the consequences? They are that someone will pick up after them, help them along so they can pass out of school without effecting the teacher's scores of passing students they have to submit to the government. These children are being left behind, as a direct result of that legislation. So am I jealous? Why does this guy have a job, and I don't? I've got so much to share and do and help and teach!!!

I learned a lot about the students I was able to engage in a conversation. They shared their stories, and I felt I would love to teach them! I shared my knowledge about plate tectonics, Hawthorne, computers, animal cells and colonial America. It felt great, but it took time, and often they were adamant they didn't want to learn anything, turning away from me and flipping open their slider phones... which, if these kids are such poor workers, how do they afford things like that? And I'm not even sure you could pull the "Maybe they're not cut out for academics."

Here is a big "how I don't want to teach." I can't wait to get out of here... it is sucking my will to live!

1 comment:

trinity_ray said...

It seems to me that Geoff Canada and the Harlem Children's Zone has the right idea... involved in children's lives...every aspect of their lives. And get families and the community involved as well. It's such a simple idea really but one we've lost...that sense of community and responsibilities to said community.

Fuck that 25 year-old teacher! No publishers are buying memoirs anymore anyway. Clearly he's a moron.