Monday, June 23, 2014

Just Something I'm Thinking About....

I recently went to school/work for a paid summer work day, to work on writing and rewriting units using a very prescribed unit planner template that is part of the International Baccalaureate Program. (I work at an IB school.)

It must be said that I'm not a fan of IB. I don't think it works well for my students. I don't think it matches their needs or deficits. I don't' think it prioritizes the basic needs of the at-risk learner. I think it's an awesome program designed for a more advanced and affluent student than I teach. Many would argue against me, including some of my colleagues and definitely my principal. But I think what I think. I know my kids. I know what engages them, what interests them, and how they learn. IB isn't it, if you ask me. (No one did.)

It also must be said that I HATE being told HOW to do my job - by anyone. I know there are certain things I must do, like lesson plan, teach the standards, communicate with parents, take attendance etc. But I hate a template for things. I feel like I know best what I need to do a good job. I know what my kids need. I know how to convey math topics. I don't need to write down the materials needed for the lesson to know what I need. Writing it down is redundant and wastes time. I could go on, but won't.

So I find myself at school, sitting in front of a computer, staring at this unit planner given to me, and feeling ANGRY. Not frustrated, bored, or overwhelmed, but ANGRY. I'm mad that I have to use this template. Mad that I have to change what I do (that works!!!) to fit in these dumb boxes. I'm mad that I have to give a "Global Context" for teaching integers, when the standards just says that students should used number lines and other models to represent integer operations. What does a Global Context have to do with that? I'm so mad I can't work. I hate the whole idea of this. I hate that I'm forced to do it. And I hate that I have to spend time doing work that doesn't matter to me, and won't benefit what I do in the classroom. 

My mind immediately goes to avoidance techniques. I start wondering, and saying out loud to a friend, "This template doesn't work for math. Do you think I really have to use it? Who's gonna know if I don't? Who's gonna check?" I sit and waste time. I check my email. I go to the bathroom. I do everything but work.

Then it hits me. This is what my students feel like when I give them work they don't want to do. They are mad. They are frustrated. They avoid using any excuse they can think of. I'm 28, college educated, and usually a pleaser, and even I dig in my heels and go against what's asked of me. How can I ask more of an at-risk 7th grader (with poor impulse control, a minimal desire to pass, and a chaotic home life) then I am capable of myself?

Of course, the answer is that I cannot. So the question I'm asking is: What can I do to motivate my students to do work, when it's not important to them? How can I help students whose first reaction is to avoid, to engage in the work? (keep in mind that I strongly believe that not ALL content is real-life relevant or fun. sometimes one just has to work because one has to work. blah, i know)

This is just something I've been thinking about.

No comments:

Post a Comment