Thursday, May 6, 2010

Once in a blue moon; once upon a time...

Apparently I'm not doing such wonderful job at updating blog with thoughts, reflections, and reactions to what's going on in my classroom and school. Such is life I guess - spring break, standardized testing (taking up 2 weeks in April), preparing for the end of the school year/finals, warmer weather, etc. - not to mention every non-professional factor that can take up time in the day.

That said, there's been plenty worth writing about, and I hope to get to a lot of it here in the near future. Reflections on the state tests, the (un)glory that is spring time middle-schooler B.O., curricular updates, and many other particulars of the job.

Because it's so fresh in my consciousness, I need to express some thoughts about what transpired in my classroom yesterday. I was out of the building, and my students were left with an incredibly experienced, knowledgable, hard-working, and admittedly 'old-school' substitute teacher. This sub was left with explicit, typed lesson plans and knew exactly what I wanted all of my students to accomplish throughout the day. For the most part, things went exactly as they should have, except for one class. Now, I know that students treating a substitute differently than their "real" teacher is a time-honored tradition. I'm not that old; I remember how plenty of students would always try and get away with more (behavior) or less (work) while a sub was in charge. For the most part, I realize my students will probably do the same, and as long as they are not rude to the sub and get done what's expected, I'm fine with that.

Yesterday, however, was different for one class. Not only did some students try the usual antics associated with any substitute day, more than a few kids openly challenged this person's authority and their "right" to give them work to do. Amazingly, for how many times I've told my students that subs do exactly what I instruct them to do, they still don't realize this is the fact. Essentially, my students disrespected and disregarded this person because, basically, they "don't like her." This only serves as the latest example of a powerful and pervasive we are entitled mentality of so many modern students. Really - the sub is supposed to let you sleep & not do anything? Really - the adult is supposed to be over-the-top nice and let you slough off before you treat that person with the basic human decency they deserve?

I always tell my students that yes, it can be difficult to adjust to different teaching styles. Additionally, I want my students to learn independent thought and to not blindly follow people, rules, and policies they know to be wrong. However, I feel as though we're not headed for a good place - collectively - when 11- and 12-year-olds demand that every assignment/task/challenge asked of them be rationalized/explained/validated.

What happened to simply being respectful of those put in a position to help you? Further, what about a common human understanding and decency? As I tell my students - they better hope they all own their own company one day - odds are at some point they'll work for and answer to someone they don't like...what happens then?

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