Tuesday, December 9, 2008

During this very crazy and stressful week of teaching and all the lovely paperwork and grading that go along with it I saw this and it was a little depressing:


It didn't help that on today's quiz 20 out of 30 students failed in one period AND after I practically gave them the answers for our starter question. I think a lot of students do bad in science because they can't read and lack critical thinking skills. Those students who are good readers tend to do very well at this level of science.

Sometimes I do not know how much help to give my kids. I feel that if I give them too much help or help that is too specific, then I'm just teaching to a test and they're just learning how to memorize answers. On the other hand, if I leave them on their own they don't study or do their homework and fail assessments and it reflects badly on me as an educator. Being a science teacher I did a little test to see if giving students more time to complete an assignment would raise the amount of homework that was turned in. These were the results from the class that struggles the most: For one assignment I gave them one night to finish and about 60% did the homework and turned it in the following day. The next assignment I gave them 5 days plus the weekend to finish and less than 50% turned the work in on time. Wow, that was interesting.

Another big problem is parent support. A lot of parents like to say that education is important, but do nothing to emphasize this idea in the home. Kids can go "play" while they have an F and 6 missing assignments. There are no consequences for failing, especially in Utah where kids can't be held back. The worst story I heard was from a math teacher at my school. A parent came in to her classroom and said that she didn't care if her son or daughter was failing math because she hates math, never did well in it herself, and doesn't think it's important for kids to learn.

John and I have also discussed at length about how ADD is more and more common because it can actually be learned. A recent study reported on NPR talked about how multitasking at a young age (talking on the cell phone while on the computer while watching the TV) can result in developing ADD. It would be nice for parents to set aside a study place and time for their kids. I think this would help. Again, this requires parent involvement because 12 year old kids are not going to set these rules for themselves.

This is also associated with the problem of having both parents in the working world. When their child gets home from school and no one is there to supervise them, who sets the rules that help them succeed? I asked a students last year why I saw him at the skate park when he had a 20% in my class. He said no one was home so he went to hang out with his friends. I'm not saying that if you both work your kid is going to fail in school, but that if you do, hopefully your kids are the self-driven type and you have a good system worked out for them. I know for some moms, working helps them be more organized and aids them in helping their kids be organized. So, you do what you works for you and, I would emphasize, what works for your kids.

I really feel this problem with our kids being academically behind stems from what is going on in the home. Home life affects academic success, which affects how our country is run by the next generation. I can't say how much I love that Nelson Mandela quote.

Hopefully things will start looking up and scores will be better on next week's test. Wish me luck!


Heidi said...

heya - you might look at Love & Logic's Motivating the Under-achiever. I went to a one day seminar given by the author. It was directed at teachers and was extremely interesting!

Kerstin said...

Very interesting info. My mom has always said that it is most important to be at home with teenagers. Apparently, they are more likely to get into BIG trouble at that age. Go figure. :)

Jethro said...

Melinda- you rock! It is the time of year to get depressed because the kids are crazy, but you are amazing!

Wiwi Kalawi said...

I blame television for the ADD thing...channels like to have shows and advertisements that suggest people are unable to focus on an image for longer than 3 seconds without getting bored.

By the way, don't despair that they don't seem to be learning right now. They won't always be like that...