What keeps you going as a teacher?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Pi-R-Squared, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    I love my job as a math teacher but what really gripes me is that a very large majority of my students aren’t good at it so their approach is lacking. Lot of the kids here don’t care much about school. I’ve basically given up on my senior boys and my lower junior students just don’t care either. None of them plan on going to college so ACT prep and practice is just them writing random letters on a piece of paper. Most of my lower Alg IA group are weak so they’d do anything besides math. My 8th grade group was already weak last year but this year they’re just not trying to learn anymore. I now can see why teachers leave the field en mass because they don’t feel they’re making any difference. Anyone feel the same?
     
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  3. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    At this exact minute, yes. I have at least 10 of my grade 7 students who can't find equivalent fractions (half of those can't tell me how many fifths are in a whole). They don't want my help, they just want someone to do the work for them.
     
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  4. geoteacher

    geoteacher Habitué

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    I do also, but I don't teach math. Students sometimes seem to lack that curiosity that spurs me to learn. When I hear about something interesting, I often want to learn more about it. Many of the students seem satisfied with very cursory answers.
     
  5. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    Is this just our being at the wrong schools? Would conditions change at a different location? I figure if I went to a larger school I’d end up with an even larger percentage of students not caring..... At least at my small school, there aren’t fights and students standing up to teachers.
     
  6. geoteacher

    geoteacher Habitué

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    Sadly, I think it is a sign of the times - and I really don't feel that I am a pessismist. Students are bombarded with information from so many sources, and there are so many more distractions in their lives. It just seems harder to focus in general.
     
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  7. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I notice this as well. Kids seem different now from when I started teaching high school just 10 years ago.
     
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  8. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I think math has to be a really hard subject to teach because so many people (kids and adults alike) are indifferent to it, at best. I teach two subjects that I personally am extremely passionate about and I think (at least, I like to think!) my passion spills over and helps my students become engaged in my subjects. I think you have to go back to what made you want to teach your subject in the first place, and let that guide you. Why math? What about it to you is beautiful? Not just "important," but fascinating? Exciting? I personally really never liked math, but I remember one teacher showing us the Fibonacci sequence and images of it in nature, and thinking that was beautiful and crazy/cool enough to make me at least think about the power of math in the universe. I think if we can show our students why we are passionate about our subject areas, then we have a slightly better chance of perhaps getting *some* kids excited about it, too. The rest are probably going to stay indifferent to it, and you have to accept that, as well. We teach for those little moments when you see a student finally "get it," or at least try. "What? By such narrow ways!" --> an absurdist manual of teaching :)
     
  9. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    In my opinion we teach so much more than our subjects. I teach high school, so the way I look at it is that I teach them
    - persistence, to come to school even when they don't want to. To at least try to write that essay and see if it comes out better than they taught. I tell them if they hate a subject, they have to try even harder, because it's not going away. For example they need to pass English to graduate, so if they hate it and not do it, the problem doesn't go away. We have to try harder in life if we hae problems. It's not only the easy things to conquer.
    - I teach them organization skills. how to organize their papers, their folder. I used to have them turn in 1-2 week's worth of work, including warm ups, etc. and had everything written on the board, how they were to go in order. If it wasn't, I took points off. I explained to them that one day they will have a boss who will need them to put things in order and if they didn't pay attention, they would find someone else who would.
    - I teach the to meet deadlines.work ethics. To finish things.
    - my favorite things to teach were things that were relatable to their lives. Because I have always been allowed to create my curriculum, I was able to tailor things. I explained to them why basic reading skills are important, even if it comes to a simple informational material. One day their kid will come home from school needing to sign a bunch of papers and they won't even know what it says. Or the child will need them to help them with their homework and they won't even know how to read the problem.
    - teach them communication skills. Skills to e able to advocate for themselves, to be able to take care of problems. If they have a mistake on their electric bill, they should be able to voice their concern and find out what the mistake is who will fix it instead of just not pay it, or cuss someone out on the phone.
    - I try to instill respect and self respect in them, as well as compassion and empathy. This is the hardest but at least I try to open their eyes that the whole word is not revolving around them, but also the whole world is not against them.

    So, no, you don't only teach math or history, you're teaching them life skills and lessons. That's what keeps me going.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019
  10. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Motivation has plummeted in my students this year. It's partially due to some school changes, but it seems like more and more students actually, really think they don't need to do what adults say anymore. I'll have super simple situations where I'll tell a child to hand me or put away a toy that they've been playing with in class after being warned, and they'll completely ignore what I'm saying because they don't want to do it. More and more children are allowed to do whatever they want, and feel no shame in telling grownups "no". That's an issue. Some of them just refuse to do things they don't want to do. I'm all for making learning fun but... Sometimes you just gotta take care of business and get the work done.

    To answer your question though:

    What keeps me motivated is the students who want to learn. I enjoy helping the struggling students who truly want to improve, and also seeing students who feel lukewarm towards reading start to love it as the year progresses.

    Also, an occasional hug from a kid or a thoughtful drawing created just for you, along with telling you that you're their favorite, best teacher ever helps put everything back into perspective. Last week, a student said to a friend that she couldn't wait for the weekend. The other girl countered: "I don't want the week to end. I like weekends, but I like school too!" It's good to know that you're providing an educational and comfortable environment that students enjoy being a part of.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
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  11. Teacher234

    Teacher234 Cohort

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    Working with my students and helping them learn and grow.
     
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  12. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    My 8th grade students told me this today.

    "You know how to teach. It's not a problem with your teaching. You're just teaching too fast...." Then I reply, "Really? I thought I was going kinda slow or even normal speed!"

    So I can only imagine how my super-low classes must feel. Gosh, if they perceive my teaching as very fast when I'm thinking I'm going slow, that's a big problem.....
     
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  13. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    My English learners used to tell me this! I learned to speak in slow-mo with economy of language. (Or it feels like slow-mo!)
     
  14. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    This reminds me of the recent Progressive commercial when Flo is trying to get her sister to sign up for homeowners insurance. She points out that it is ridiculously simple to do, and the sister, barely moving the pedals on her exercise bike, tells Flo to be quiet - she's "blasting her quads." Speed is relative, and if the students don't want to actually commit to learning, then any "speed" is out of their comfort zone. You might try letting them research and present something from a lesson, one at a time, on different topics - give it a nice point value to encourage participation. See if they become exasperated that classmates don't want to engage. Nothing makes your point better than to let the students make it for you.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
  15. whizkid

    whizkid Cohort

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    School breaks and field trips.
     
  16. mcqxu

    mcqxu Comrade

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    I teach a language, and can move too quickly too. It is so hard not to. Thing is, some students keep up just fine and then can get very bored. I probably teach to that group too much. It is good to remind myself to put myself in the shoes of all students!

    What keeps me going... I really do love what I teach, and with the occasional exception, I love that I can teach it the way I want to and most effectively in my current school. I also try to bring food multiple times a year, and do my best to make the language alive and meaningful. That keeps students going lol.
     
  17. Teacher234

    Teacher234 Cohort

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    I teach at a relatively slower pace. I ensure all students have a good understanding of the part of a lesson and I monitor students for who needs to provide 1:1 review.
     
  18. JimG

    JimG Comrade

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    1. Patience
    2. Building positive raport with students
    3. Spiraling instruction through multiple learning styles (audio, visual, tactile, social, etc.)
    4. Humor
    5. Supportive admin and PLC members
    6. Overplanning to avoid downtime
    7. Kind, positive-phrased redirection (“Hey Johnny, you with us?” vs. “Johnny, stop putting your head down!”)
    8. Never assuming that certain steps are so “obvious” that I can skim over them (for instance, some students get just by looking at it why if 2x = 10, then x = 5; but some HAVE to write the divide 2 step in order to grasp it. I would rather cover every detail possible than gloss over parts and have kids give up because they can’t follow.)

    Not sure if you were actually looking for a list as opposed to just venting, but those items came to mind.
     
  19. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    What I hate to say is that I don’t see many of my students dedicating and committing to learn. As I’ve stated many times, a large majority will go either go straight to work or drop out and “wait for the government check.” Very depressing circumstances here.....
     
  20. JimG

    JimG Comrade

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    See #2 above. It won’t necessarily solve all the issues with intentional non-learners (though it will help), but it will make your time with them easier, if not enjoyable. In fact, I would say that if a student is not motivated internally nor academically, then the ONLY way to get them to listen to anything you say is to have a positive raport with them.
     
  21. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    Well, as an assistant coach for baseball, I can build rapport that way. Since we live in the redneck boondocks, I sometimes ask them how their mudding, 4-wheeling, and hunting are doing and they gladly respond. Math? Not a chance.
     

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