Thinking Problems

"I don't get it." That's one sentence that drives me RIGHT up a wall. Usually I will have just explained the directions to a fairly simple assignment for fifteen minutes, asked for questions, answered questions, and told students to get started, when one idiot--the one who's been drawing on his desk the whole time--will not even attempt the assignment, but he will raise his hand and say, "I don't get it."

My standard response is, "Student X, you are going to have to give me more to work with, because when you say, 'I don't get it," I have no idea how to help you." Then my little genius amends his statement to, "I don't understand it," and I tell him that's no better and he has to be specific about his needs because there are a ton of things I can help him with, but I don't want to waste my time or his, so he is going to have to narrow that down.

At this point, Student X stares at me, slack-jawed, and then throws his pencil down and tries to go to sleep. "Oh no," I say. "That is not the assignment AT ALL."

"But you won't help me!" the darling child wails.

"Oh, that is CLEARLY not what I said at all," I reply. "I said I WOULD help you, but you have to tell me exactly what you need help WITH," I say.

"All of it!" he practically screams.

"I find that hard to believe," I say, "because I know that you have heard me explain these directions, and I further know that you are fully capable of reading those directions yourself. Therefore, one of two things is happening here: either you are deliberately misunderstanding these directions in order to get out of doing any work, or you are saying to me, 'Ms. Flower, this assignment requires me to think a teeny-tiny bit, and I don't want to. Can't you do this work for me?' Neither of those works for me, so you're going to either tell me SPECIFICALLY what you need help with, or you're going to figure it out for yourself, but no matter what, YOU ARE GOING TO COMPLETE THAT ASSIGNMENT, ARE WE CLEAR?"

And then what does the little smart aleck say? "Can you tell me the answer to number 1?"

1 comment:

angela said...

I'd like your opinion:
Should a teacher on a provisional credential who never passed the subject proficiency test for the subject they are teaching be able to attest to the fact that "All of the lessons are in the Houghton Mifflin book so I am on cruise control"?!

if the subject was say... English... how would you feel?


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