March 9, 2010

Brilliant Pieces of Wisdom

Oh wow. This Slicing is great!

Why do I say this today? It's because I snatched a brilliant piece of wisdom from Kevin's blog, which you just have to read. To take it completely out of context (really, you have to read Kevin's blog) the quote is “I refuse to do more work than the student.”

My sushi therapy friend Judy and I have been riffing on this all day. Does it mean we get to be as lazy as some of our students? Well what about those students who are completely slothful, yet they benefit from the efforts we make in our lesson prep to teach the students that are interested, and interesting? Do we scale back our prep to even it out? Or does it mean that we don't start our engines until we hear the varroom of theirs at the starting line?

I think it means that we strike a balance. We can't do the work, the learning, the effort for those arrayed before us in their desks, balancing their books and their lives and their 35 hours of working at Starbucks and their child with pneumonia and their 24-hour video game marathons. Everyone gets to figure it out--gets to figure out what's important. And because I think school's important, I want them all to succeed. (Preaching to the choir, here.)

But I need to tattoo that saying on my head, pulling back instead of making it too easy. Struggling to learn a concept (as mentioned by some in my comments a couple of days ago--you are all wonderful, wonderful) is not necessarily a bad thing.

Because I read this, while slicing along, I laid my guilt over not letting Mr. Bodybuilder Student revise his essay for the third time, instead letting his 68% stand.

He chose. I chose.

But if and when he steps up, I'll be there, ready and willing.







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10 comments:

  1. I guess it does not matter what age or grade level, we all have the doers and the takers. It is painful for me to see some of my first grade students "check out". I think about what a long, boring school career they will have if they do not engage.

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  2. I also struggle with this! It is good to know that I am not alone.

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  3. I'm glad you went for Sushi therapy. We all need those kinds of friends, who will listen and be there for us on the (best and) worst of days.

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  4. Sometimes it is so hard to watch our students deal with the natural consequences of their actions. Tomorrow I am giving my 8th graders a test on The Giver. We finished reading it last week. We've been having class discussions and various activities and assignments on the book, but I hadn't been giving reading quizzes. Today as we finished the group work on a journal analysis, one of the boys said, "Oh no! The test is tomorrow? I haven't finished the book yet!" We had several discussions about his choices and all the opportunity and structure I had offered in getting the reading done. He was only have way through. We'll see how he does on tomorrows test.

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  5. i think the best part of this slice of life blogging is learning that we are all in the same boat! i usually feel like my students are the only unengaged ones on the face of the planet--and i work really, super hard to create literature & writing activities that relate to my high schoolers' lives. but, more often than not, i'm the one who's done most of the work.

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  6. I hear that comment a lot. It was fun to see your reflections on the concept.

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  7. I think that is the perfect attitude to have! We can really drive ourselves around the bend if we carry too much of the load. And I don't think we do our students any favours by doing more work for them than they do for themselves. As it said in Kevin's piece, we do a lot of behind the scenes work, but there comes a point where we are doing too much of the child's/student's work. I spent 15 minutes conferencing with a student one day, and he spent 4 minutes making the revisions he agreed with. I struggled with letting him "get away with it" or taking him to task...again... for sloppy work. It is hard to find the right level of scaffolding to offer sometimes.

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  8. Working harder than the kids leads to teacher burn-out, I think, so it's sound advice! I'll have to go over to Kevin's blog and see what he says...

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  9. I definitely struggle with this all the time. I'm in the middle of this struggle with about 1/4 of my new GED students. I agree with Nancy's observation about burning out ... and I know I have a hard time not working harder than my students, so I've clearly got some work to do. Thanks for leading me back to Kevin's post, which I'd read and been thinking about and need to keep thinking about ...

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  10. Awesome. It is amazing how some people come up with cool ideas.

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