How much is too much?

I sometimes feel like my freshmen are incapable of doing anything unless I am standing over their shoulders and leading them step by step. This concerns me on two wholly separate levels:

1. What are they going to do when they finally get kicked out of the nest and have to figure out how to fly on their own?
2. Unless I AM dictating their every move, how are they going to pass those freaking tests that determine a) whether I am an effective teacher, and b) whether my school makes its AYP goals?

On the one hand, I'm afraid that they are too dependent, almost cripplingly so, and that eventually, I'm gonna be in a nursing home, barely able to hold my own head up, having to help some young whippersnapper with his tax forms.

On the other hand, I'd kind of like my school to remain a viable educational institute.

Even though I know some of their lack of initiative is my own fault, because I enable their behavior, it doesn't stop me from getting frustrated with them on a daily basis. For example, since our classes are short due to the two weeks of state testing, I am having them do a research project in which they have to create a travel brochure for a foreign country.

"If you were a travel agent," I said, "what information would you want your clients to have about this country? What would cause someone to say, 'Hey, I want to go to X Country?'" I told them to look for landmarks or historic places, average climates, fun things to do, etc. I'd even gotten together with the librarian, who pulled books, encyclopedias, and travel information off the shelves for them, so that was half the battle fought for them (another example of my own enabling).

So I get this one kid, who--not five minutes after we got into the library--said, "Ms. Flower, I can't find nothing in this book."

"[Student]," I replied, "let me tell you where you've gone wrong here. First, I cannot understand you when you speak a foreign language." (This is what I always say when they use improper grammar. "You might as well be speaking Japanese," I tell them.")

"Second," I said, calmly, though I certainly didn't feel calm, "you cannot tell me that you haven't found any information when YOU HAVEN'T READ PAST PAGE SEVEN IN THE BOOK."

Now, I know that what he was really saying was, "Ms. Flower, please do this work for me." And I try not to, but some of these kids are so used to wearing their teachers down that they are almost completely incapable of thinking for themselves. I am surprised I don't have to tell them to take bathroom breaks, some of them.

Tomorrow is the state English exam. I am scared to death for those kids, even though I've been doing test prep with them, and they've been getting test prep out the wazoo from all their other teachers too. But the thing is, tomorrow I CAN'T HELP THEM, and I just don't know how they're going to deal with that. I hope that I've been hands-off enough that they can do well on their own, but I've seen how poorly they've done when nobody walks them through the questions, and it is not looking so good for our results.

It's times like these when I try not to think this: Someday, those kids are going to in charge of my MediCare. Eep.

1 comment:

Scherzando said...

I totally know what you mean - my little brother's a freshman. But freshmen grow up, thankfully. It just takes some of them a while.


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