Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Role of the Teacher, Part Deux

The role of the teacher. Great question, with so many answers...More angles, as my favorite college professor used to say "than a 4 way cold tablet."

As I write this post, I do so with some strong feelings towards some of my co-workers, A couple of days ago, I emailed my team...

In the interest of trying to further my advisees' progress, I was wondering if it would be possible if we could communicate with one another regarding assignments. Many of my guys (we have single sex advisories) don't know what their HW assignments are, or when major projects are due. If we could create a system, through email, blogging, etc. where they would be listed, even on a day-to-day basis, that would be great. I know, they're supposed to do this themselves, but reality is what it is.

I have no intention of coddling my advisees. My point was to figure out what they need to do, and make sure it gets done.

To which, I've received the following responses...

"If they cant take 2 seconds to write down their assignments when i mention them several times in class, then they deserve the zero for the work they don't do. They have to learn some responsibility."

"they're 10th graders."

What does that mean? They're a bunch of (sometimes) goofy, confused, scared, angry, frustrated 15 and 16 year-olds who, for the most part have been completely disenfranchised by the school system, whose parents have been just as disenfranchised, or don't have the means, ability, time or responsibility themselves to help them. A system that our school was DESIGNED AND CREATED TO FIGHT AGAINST!!! Moreover, if these kids don't graduate, or drop out, the entire purpose of our school, and the small school movement, is for naught.

Does receiving "zero" teach responsibility? Maybe. Or, to the kids who've lived with the zero their whole lives, is it just more reinforcement that school isn't for them? Of course, deadlines are important. As adults, don't we get reminders about bills being due, and the like? Does anyone really believe these kids come to school everyday because they want to fail?

I'd like to hear some feedback on this, and appreciate the forum that's been established to air things like this.

12 comments:

Wally said...

T

I think using a web based program that everyone can access would be great. The science teacher on my Freshmen team has one of those, month at-a-glance calenders, set up for project his advisory kids have. This seems to be something to aspire too. I'm not that good at it yet.

Right now I use www.teacherease.com and honestly I don't update it as often as I should.

W Brown said...

Our school is structured to have teachers meet three times a week for an hour which also helps with being on top of each others work. Inter-visitations during the school day and watching each other teach seems to create a better understanding of expectations too.

Anonymous said...

When I was in JHS and HS I invested $1 per class in an old fashioned pocket spiral notepad. I would write down all my HW assignents IN PEN and complete them(mostly) on time. I didn't need a fancy web based program and/or a team of teachers to REMIND me to do anything. If I was absent (which was rare because my mom didn't believe in sick days) I had a few loyal friends who would call me (on a land line, not a cell phone) and catch me up. Was I an abnormally responsible student? teenager? daughter? I don't think so, and my mom would agree. It was more a matter of exercising common sense than showing responsibility.
A few weeks ago I gave my students the option of emailing me an major assignment because I knew for a few, their printer wasn't working. The stipulation was it had to be sent the night before it was due. Instead, more than half of the class handed it in 3-5 days late, claiming their email wasn't working. Or they didn't know how to attach a file on Word. Or, they didn't have my email address (even though it was printed on their activity guide).Or they were banned by their parent from using their computer for any reason. The list goes on and on.
These are Seniors.
Next time I am demanding hard copies only. My motto: NO EXCUSES.

Demi

Anonymous said...

The spiral notepad was our technology; it's not theirs. And they don't all have moms that don't believe in sick days. Heck, they don't all have moms. And I bet there were kids that needed to be reminded even when we were in school. We always need to remember that we, as people that grew up and became teachers, are the exceptions rather than the rule.

It feels, to me, like we're swimming against the current. We are teaching same old, same old in a whole new world. I don't know what the answer is. I just see the questions...how can we make this more meaningful for our kids? How can we make it matter? How can we reach them in their world of new technologies, prepare them for new literacies? Why do schools always lag so far beyond the real world? Why do we fall back on "when I was in school...?" or the mentality that giving a zero is a solution?

Lori

Anonymous said...

As a teenager in high school I thought most adults were losers who just didn't get it. They didn't understand the realities I went home to, and their version of smart was meaningless to me. I graduated, but the only things I remember of value were the times when I was given pause to think about something and perhaps have an actual stimulating conversation.
Sure, we want our students to be responsible, but only for the things we deem valuable. We dismiss their technology, resent their access and fall back on "when I was their age," when in fact, they are already smarter than we are in so many ways. I agree we need to figure out how school fits into today's world. It is no longer about the pursuit of knowledge, but rather the development of intelligence. The spiral notebook was my means of being organized, and that was because I didn't have much else to work with. I often ripped the undone pages out, because I was a beleiver in starting over, when failure reared it's ugly face. Perhaps it is time for educators to tear out those old "to do's" and take a fresh look at what we are teaching and who our audience is. BYW...I am now an administrator at a public high school. Talk about ironic.

Anonymous said...

Our school system has Blackboard, and although I am the only teacher who uses it, I find that most of my kids check it often. It has also been reat because if a student has been absent, as soon as they come into class, if they do not have computer access at home, I can direct them to a computer and they can get on immediately and check everything they missed. Although we haven't used the discussion board section of the site yet, that would be a great way for students to update each other on things.

Laura (from Baton Rouge)

Anonymous said...

At our school, we also have a web based program that only a handful of teachers, parents, and students utilize regularly. I think we all realize that we faced consequences as students. If I didn't do my homework or projects I was in trouble. There was no make up HW, no deadline extension, no excuses that would work. In college, and aren't we supposed to be preparing them for college, what professor will remind them or give them any extra assistance? They won't. If their boss asks them for a report and it's late that's grounds for firing. We need to get real or the students will go out into the world and think everyone will hold their hands. Students will rise to the challenges you give them. Let's not underestimate their abilities and begin holding them accountable as well. I do everything to ensure my students succeed, but I also want to nuture independant adults.

Anonymous said...

Do not give them fish to eat but instead teach them how to fish...

Mr. Schatz said...

In response to Mr. Tesler's post from Nov 17th...

The role of the school and those who work within its confines as teachers is to do just what their name implies, teach. We as educators cannot assume that each child comes to school with the same abilities, sense of responsibilities and level of engagement as their peers. It’s about teaching our students with fairness in mind. (It is also important to remember that what is fair is not the same for all students.) If there is a gap in meeting the expectations we as teachers expect, we must first assume that either the student does not have it in their repertoire to meet that goal, or that they can achieve it but the parameters are just not reinforcing enough for them to want to achieve it. In either of these two cases it is our jobs as teachers to either teach them the necessary skills they lack (i.e. organization and self management for taking down assignments) or provide more reinforcing consequences then are provided to them for not completing their school and or home work. For many of these students escape, or attention they gain from their teacher (negative attention is still attention) or their peers, from not doing the work are far more reinforcing to them then the supposed negativity we as teachers believe the 0 they receive will cause and the motivation we believe its receipt will spur. As teachers we must find that which motivates each of our individual students and use that to get them to do that which highly motivates us, having our students do well on the school and or homework we assign.

Anonymous said...

Historically in the United States, “Schools and teachers have been expected to rescue children from poverty… to develop universal literacy as a platform for economic survival, to create skilled workers …” (Hargreaves, 2003, p.11). To do so, teachers have to rise above the misinformed and create a learning environment that helps the students meet whatever challenges he or she faces to become our nation's next leaders and members of the global economy.

Vicki

W Brown said...

I think I agree with Vicki? We need to be realistic as to what the challenges our students are going to face. We need to start valuing the interpersonal skills and the ability to access information. The global economy values thinkers who think outside of the box, and praises individuals who can articulate new solutions.

If teachers ignore the opportunity to collaborate with their students on effective time management, what skill are our future global participants learning?

D. Guglielmini said...

Today I am looking up video resources for a project I am working on. HotChalk.com has partnered with NBC to offer free video archives. (I'm curious to see whether these work in the classroom)

While browsing through Hotchalk, I discovered that it is a free online site for teachers to share announcements, homework assignments....etc.
http://www.hotchalk.com/

It reminded me of this post.