Hoshti Goshtas (rpeate) wrote in badass_teacher,
Hoshti Goshtas

One of My Pep Talks

“Here’s the work. I can’t make you do it. You will either do it or you won't. You will either pass or fail, be graduated or not. It’s your choice: if you want to pass, you will. If you want to fail, you will.

"Oh, yes--and I see a lot of students who want ‘F’s. They sit there the entire period saying, ‘I will not do work! I will not do work! I will not do work! I really want an ‘F’! I really want an 'FFFFFFFFFF'!’ They work very hard to get ‘F’s.

“Do teachers give grades?”

“No. Teachers do not give grades. Teachers record the grades students earn. Teachers cannot do your work for you. It is, by definition, your work, your responsibility. Meet it.”

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It's definitely a reality check. My wife says the students probably hear "Wah wah wah" a la Charlie Brown's teacher. No?
Of course, one of the special joys of teaching is that we are secretly at the same time campaigning to teach our students how to want the good grade -- how to believe in themselves as capable of it and see its potential and make decisions that will earn it for them.
I have a grade 5 class, and quite a few boys (no girls, really with this attitude, strangely) who are all "I'm bored. This is stupid." Etc. They have seriously bad attitudes. They don't listen to instructions, and when they have to redo something (ie. "I explained I wanted full sentences. It's even written on the board.") they're uber whiney/upset/pouty.

Kids this age are still early in the process of developing their executive function -- which includes the ability to plan ahead, follow complex instructions, anticipate consequences, and manage frustration. This is not to say we shouldn't expect them to do better -- they really benefit from instruction and support specifically in those areas. It can feel very odd to teach explicitly about attitude or give step by step instructions for how to follow directions... but it works. (: