Friday, January 20, 2012

It's not you, it's me...REALLY!

The math instructional coach told me yesterday that January to March is the "doldrums" of the school year. I can definitely see that playing out so far this year. The kids are a little crazy and a lot lacking in motivation! I've been a little down this week because I'm not feeling like a very effective teacher, so I went to talk to my instructional coach about what I can do to feel like the kids are learning something.

One of my biggest concerns is my ELT class. ELT (extended learning time) is my group of students that are either very low or right on the bubble of passing. I have them during ELT and during their regular class. We use ELT to preview material and give extra practice/help on the more challenging subjects.

Lately, I've been collecting their work every day and noticed that maybe 5 out of the 22 or so students in that class are actually trying to complete their classwork. I'm starting to feel like not putting any effort forth in that class because I'm not getting any effort from them. I even told them the other day that I feel like a middle school girl who has a crush on a guy who doesn't like her back (hey, I thought it'd help them relate to how I'm feeling)! I was trying to figure out what to do about the kids who weren't doing anything.

Then, I thought about it: what am I planning for them each day? Is it interesting? Is it helpful? Is it too close to what we are doing in class? I realized that maybe the issues are coming from the fact that I'm having them do the same thing every single day. And after seeing my twice a day, and one of those classes being a worksheet/bookwork every time, I'm sure they get really bored!! I probably wouldn't want to try either if I knew I would have to do another 20 problems of the same thing the next day.

Sometimes the whole "it's not you, it's me" phrase really is true (though not necessarily in breakups...but that's another topic). I feel like I have done something to make this class so boring/seemingly worthless for the kids that they aren't taking advantage of having another opportunity to learn math in a day. I'm so glad I realized that now so that I can fix it and make the next 4 or so months worthwhile!

So, next time you're wondering why a situation is so bad/wrong/pointless, think this to yourself: "What have I done to make the situation this way?" And, most importantly, "What (that I have control over) can I change to improve it?" I'm not trying to say that you should take fault or blame for every single situation, but I feel so relieved and liberated right now thinking that there may be something that I can change to help make this situation better! I hope this may help someone else feel better about something causing them stress :)

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