Saturday, September 16, 2006

I Love Teaching, I Love Teaching, I Love...

Maybe if I say it often enough, I'll convince myself.

Ok, actually, I do love teaching. At least, I love it more than any other job I've ever had (and that's A LOT) and sometimes I just plain love it. But.

This year I started teaching an SAT Prep class. It's exactly what it sounds like - a class which helps kids prepare to get better scores on the SAT. I don't know how many people who aren't in education (or who don't have kids in high school) know this, but the SAT changed formats a couple years ago and now includes an essay. The students have 25 minutes to write a persuasive essay on a given question. Part of my job is to try to get them to know the difference between there/their/they're and our/are, etc, but part of it is also to give them better strategies for writing. To that end, I assigned a poster project two weeks ago (TWO WEEKS. This will be an important point.) on which different pairs were to work together to create a poster detailing things that the graders were looking for or tips on time management, etc.

Here are some things that happened yesterday: One student e-mailed me, included a digital picture of her poster to prove she had been working on it, and told me she'd be sick the next day and could she please turn it in Monday. One student brought me a note from her mother saying that her cell phone had been stolen the day before and so she was "too upset" to finish the poster. One pair of boys were quite unhappy because *25 minutes* before the end of the period in which the poster was due my printer was out of ink so they could not print the pictures they wanted to put on the poster. At that point, their poster was A BLANK PIECE OF POSTER BOARD.

Two weeks, people. This is a class in which I don't lecture and the kids don't have specific things they must accomplish every day. They have a list of items they are to work on each week and they are to learn to budget their time (this, in theory, will help them prepare to budget their own time in college). In two weeks, these darling children could not - or would not - finish a *poster*. Now, in fairness, the vast majority of the dear children did finish, and some of the posters are quite good with a lot of effort put into them. But oy.

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