Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Rationalizing Student Behavior

When I was in sixth grade, my English teacher started each week with a spelling pretest. At some point during the week the words would be used in class or as part of a homework assignment, and then the final test was on Friday. This routine was followed every week. By about June, I finally figured it out.

Every class has that kid who wanders in the door only to gasp, “There's a test today?!” I was that kid. And it wasn't because I was trying to be funny; I truly couldn't see the big picture.

It's easy to forget that our students are just kids, especially at the middle school level. They aren't going to be able to conceptualize ideas (or in my case, sequence of events!), and they aren't going to have very good follow-through. It's just the nature of the beast.

It's easy to say this right now because I don't have a bumbling student standing in front of me trying to explain his erratic behavior. But the next time I do, I hope I can think back to myself in sixth grade. Teachers should have high expectations of their students, but let's never forget that at the end of the day, they're just kids.
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1 Responses:

siobhan said...

I teach college, and when I'm losing my mind over something one of my students has done, I try to think back to myself in college. I came to one morning class almost 45 minutes late every day because I had other priorities (ie a new boyfriend.) I could not bring myself to hand assignments in on time because I had other things on my mind; one professor let me deliver papers to her house! I wonder what would have happened if my professors were as hardassed as I am, and didn't accept my excuses. I like to think it would have done me some good. At the same time, I'm glad that no one tried to make me feel bad about myself in the face of such behavior, and I do my best to remember that when my students are being irresponsible.