Monday, September 26, 2005

As the week slowly struggles to get to it's feet ...

This is one of those slow starting weeks for my students, it seems. They seem to be holding on to the effects of the weekend. It isn't so much the sleeping in or staying up late part that they are maintaining. It is that mindless, absence of structure, free to do what I want, part that they have dragged into the classroom.

It is hard to keep them on task. They are easily distracted by anything and everything that happens around them. It would be easy, on days like today, to become frustrated with this calling.

Fortunately, days like this are few and far between. I have discovered, it is best, that even on "free days", there should be some kind of structure. This holds true, even if that structure is just sitting and watching a movie. You cannot let them get used to doing whatever they want, anytime. With kids, if you let them do it anytime, it means they can do it every time. THAT would be totally destructive to the learning environment.

There will always be students that are unwilling to learn. There will always be students that we haven't reached and even some that we will never reach. We cannot allow those students to dictate the atmosphere of the classroom. We cannot allow them to inhibit the learning of those the do have desire to do so. We must 'corral' the unruly, and keep them from bothering those that are trying. This is a difficult task at times.

We (the Vocational schools) are generally given the students that the high schools can't do anything with. We have a collection of students that genuinely want to be here, mixed with a groups that are walking orphans. These are orphans because someone somewhere has given up on them. Only 26% of high school seniors will go on to college. Only 12% will actually graduate college. That leaves 74% to 88%, that will walk into the work force with only a high school education. Some of those have passed only because schools want graduates.

Somewhere along the line, a teacher reaches that point with a student. He/She can't do anything with them. They make that very painful decision (at least, I hope it would be a painful decision) to leave that student for the good of the herd. They must take the rest of the students into fertile grounds of learning. They must take them to the next level. An orphan is created. Their grades begin to dwindle (one of only 3 common words in the English language beginning with 'dw') and they begin to fall further behind.

A teacher is like a shepherd, given charge of the children of this nation. It is our job to find the way to feed them, find a way to teach them, find a way to reach them. It is our job to TEACH them. It is not our job to fail them. We are not called 'fail-ers'. We are not called 'separators'. We are not called 'cull-ers'. We are called teachers.

Doing my job doesn't always sit well with my students. They may think I am being mean at times. They may think I am being strict at times. They may think I am unreasonable when I refuse to let them 'not' learn. They may think lots of things, but they will know that I am a TEACHER.

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