Big brew-ha-ha about President Obama talking to school kids today. Shakespeare's play, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING comes to mind. The President said real controversial things like "Stay in School"," Don't give up", "Study hard".
Today was the final work day for my students MINI SCIENCE PROJECT. (for copies of material go to my school website posted on the side bar and go to NOTES AND MAJOR ASSIGNMENTS>> MINI SCI PROJ).
This is the 3rd day in class we have done work in this and it is the hardest day for me. This is the day that students are composing the WRITTEN RESULTS, CONCLUSION, and putting final touches to the INTRODUCTION, GRAPH, DATA TABLE and visual appeal. I go crazy this day because 1/2 the students often appear to be doing nothing, just hanging out talking. I make the group sizes no bigger than 3, if bigger it is a certainty that one person is doing nothing. Oh and look out for the groups of 3 boys. Experience has taught me that with any project a group of 2 girls will be done in 50 minutes, 3 boys will take 4 class periods, lose most of what they created, make 61% of the noise, chase each other at least once an hour, and stare at each other 50% of the time.
Usually the students do a really nice job, but I worry that they don't realize that this is a big chunk of their grade.
I think their grade on this will be the grade they get at semester. I am going to have one of my Honors Science Students do a comparison study of this to see if my hypothesis is supported.
I have to be patient and have hope. In the movie EVAN ALMIGHTY, God says to Evan's wife that if you pray for patience you will not get patience, you will get situations that you need to be patient in. Well this is one of those situations. I have to be patient with my students on this day.
About hope...you have to actively hope. Here's how. MONITOR-MONITOR-MONITOR. You cannot be a good competent and successful teacher if you are not scanning the class. This is a concept taught to us pilots in flight training. Scan: Look outside, Indicators: Airspeed, Rate of Turn...compare to Magnetic Compass, Rate of descent....compare to the ARTIFICIAL HORIZON...Fuel...Temp...pressures...REPEAT.
SCAN-SCAN-SCAN: In the classroom you have to do the Teacher Scan: KIDS ON TASK, NOISE LEVEL APPROPRIATE, STUDENTS WHERE THEY BELONG...BOYS NOT PUNCHING OR CHASING, GIRLS NOT DRAWING HEARTS WITH THEIR BOY FRIENDS' NAME IN THE MIDDLE, WORKING ON APPROPRIATE TASK, CHECK CLOCK (or timer) FOR REMAINING TIME ON TASK, WALK AROUND CLASS, TALK TO A STUDENT OR GROUP ABOUT THEIR PROGRESS-ENCOURAGE, REDIRECT, OFFER HELP, SMILE. REPEAT
This seems common sense but... some teachers play computer games, or read the newspaper or read a novel or goof off on the Internet. New teachers may see this in their master teachers* or other teachers they have visited and think this is okay. IT IS NOT OKAY. We are being payed to educate and help our students, not recreate. We need to spend every moment in class, every comment we make, every e-mail or website or other computer activity we do, as if our School Board President, our Principal, our Learning Director, and our Student's Parents are looking over our shoulder. If we are doing anything in class that we would not do with the above conditions then we are wrong...and need to refocus...and get back to our job.
*Master Teachers, we need to be monitoring our student teachers. We need to be working while they are working. We need to be taking notes on what/how they are doing, making sure all is appropriate. We should not be checking out mentally on them or the students you are responsible to educate. Often I hear colleagues gleeful about getting a student teacher because because they think "I don't have to work most of this semester". I think having a student teacher is more work...a task I take pride and diligence with, but more work none the less. It takes time to plan together and explain things and prepare student teachers and to build their confidence. When I get a student teacher I think, "Oh boy...this is going to be a lot more work...but helping new teachers is worth it...I'm training my future colleague, my replacement, my children and grandchild's teacher...the burden is high, but so is the reward and it will be fun"
I hope this helps,
Love to Teach and Teach with Passion
Remember...It's not Magic, It's Science