For reasons I’ve yet to be able to put my finger on, my students have been behaving like ninth graders lately. They’re chatty and rambunctious, they can’t focus for crap, and they seem intent on wasting as much (utterly precious) time as they can. I had thought this was just my T/TH kids’ problem, but it seems to have infected my hybrid class, as well.
They were pretty much off the wall today, my hybrid kids, and it took a great deal of my energy to keep them focused and on-task. I’m genuinely worried about these students; they’re not suited for a hybrid course, which requires a lot of self-motivation and responsibility (none of either is in great supply in this group); they complained to the head chef and my department head that the one day a week class format isn’t working for them; and they’ve already missed one class because of MLK Day and they’re going to miss another class next Monday for Presidents’ Day. We have a ton of things left to cover – and they still need a lot more practice with the skills I’ve taught so far – and I’m not sure we’ve got enough runway left to get ’em off the ground.
There’s one girl in my Monday class who presented me with a particular challenge today. It seems that Ms. Dama doesn’t think that this class is doing her any particular good and, as a result, she’s not been putting forth much effort here. She emailed me, prior to turning in her homework assignment, complaining that she couldn’t do it because she didn’t understand what was being asked. When she turned in a half-completed assignment, I emailed her back and re-stated what was expected (the students were asked to complete a rubric of writing standards to use in their peer-editing workshops), and she fired back that she couldn’t possibly create a rubric because she didn’t know what people would be writing about.
Her workshop partner and I spent the better part of the workshop time trying to get her to understand that a) it doesn’t matter what someone’s writing about – all good writing has certain qualities that can be defined and assessed and b) she has as much right to critique a piece of writing as anyone else (she tried to get out of the assignment by saying that she wasn’t qualified to say whether a piece of writing is good or bad). I’m very glad she was partnered with who she was – this boy is one of my strongest writers, is kind and patient, and is genuinely interested in good constructive criticism.
I’m not sure I can get through to Dama. She has essentially decided that this class isn’t going to be useful to her, and no amount of my convincing this afternoon seemed to sway her in her convictions. She’s failing the class, though, so if she doesn’t hurry up and figure out what she needs to do to pull herself out of this hole she’s dug, she will find herself taking this ‘useless’ class again next term.