Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Mutiny

It all started with one of my extended absence students returning. Her close cousin was killed in an accident and she is dealing with a lot right now. She is also a pretty good student (although with an attitude) who is now a week behind, not just in my class, but in all of them.

And she is mad.

At me.

And my "whacked out grading system." I love that. I just graded lab notebooks and each student received scores on five of the Lab Skills targets.*

Once she started ranting about her failing grade (I enter missing assignments as zeros strictly for my bookkeeping purposes), a good number of kids joined in.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from this "discussion":

"I want to read a textbook and fill out a worksheet." (4.0 student)
"We shouldn't have to know what we've done in a lab." (another 4.0 student)
"I don't get anything out of the whiteboarding." (This is as the student is texting under the table)
"I can't get a good grade with these target things." (This student didn't even turn in a notebook.)

There were others, some directed at me personally, but the gist of it could be summarized into one complaint:

"I don't want to have to work for my grade."

This is pretty much exactly what our modeling instructor warned us about. The kids who are traditionally A and B students are the ones who really struggle with figuring stuff out on their own. They have learned to play the game and when the game changes, they can't adapt.

Somewhat surprising to me are the kids who are emerging as really good thinkers. A few of my really low readers are excelling in this class, probably for no other reason than the pressure of fill-in-the-blank is not there. Hands on thinking seems to bring out the best in them. This is also kind of a wake up call when one of the A/B students claims that "everyone in this class is failing." Oh, the priceless look when someone who has struggled so much in the past speaks up and says, "I have a B."

I also have a couple really brilliant kids who are really thriving on this as well. They seem to be enjoying the new rules and are being challenged in a system that more often than not ignores them to focus on the low achievers.

All in all, I am foreseeing a few parent phone calls in my near future. I have been doing much better about that this year and have already put in a few calls myself. This has always been a weakness of mine and I am determined to do better this year.

What is amazing to me right this second is that I have never once thought that maybe I should go back to teaching in a more traditional manner. I truly believe that this is a better way.

Even if my kids delete me from their Facebook friends.

*Hmmmm...was going to link to this, but apparently I haven't posted them. Coming soon: Lab Skills Targets!


Jason Buell said...

Good stuff Tracie.

Julie Cunningham said...

Love the title... I can just feel the air during your 'discussion'.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what it says about me that this makes me just so darn happy. Keep it up!

Shawn Cornally said...

This happens every single semester in my room. Once the SBG express gets rolling, they all get on board. Sometimes I send those same snarky comments about not wanting to work for a grade to their parents. That changes things.

Parent: "With that attitude, why should I pay for college?"
Student: "..." /crickets

Tracie Schroeder said...

Thanks for the morale boost, everyone!

Door-I know what you mean in kind of a sick, perverted sort of way :)

Shawn-I have had a few kids come in for help and and already seeing a difference (love your blog, by the way)

Mrs. Tenkely said...

There is always push back when the rules change. You are so right, the students who are griping are upset that they can't lazily meander through school any more. You messed up the system they have perfected over years of traditional schooling. They may not get easy grades, but they will learn something!

Dr. Luann Lee said...

You can't go back. Smile. Ride it out. I bet it's run the course already. Let us know.

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