Friday, September 23, 2011

Simply Find What Motivates Them!

This week, my class worked on context clues.  We discussed and looked at four different types of context clues, we worked in groups to find context clues in our novel, we found context clues in infographics, and we took a short test to see how they progressed.  For the first time this year (in four weeks) we met our class goal in at least one class and were 1% from our goal in another.  It feels good to reach those goals, but it also feels shallow because as teachers, we can manipulate the numbers to reflect anything we want.

I realize that I could make the questions easier, or make the answer choices less tricky, or grade on a slightly favorable scale.  I can manipulate the data and then it becomes poor data.  The students who don't put forth their best effort manipulate the numbers too.  One or two students not trying or not motivated to put in the effort to gain a proper outcome spoil the class average and their own individual data.

So how beneficial is the sort of quiz that sets a goal for a class.  Does it really do anything other than motivate the already motivated and ignore the motivation of the unmotivated?  That's unfair to say (I guess); all of my students are motivated.  It just seems that more are motivated by peer pressure and trying to get away with breaking a policy/procedure.  They are motivated to make fun of other students so that their flaws are not highlighted.  They are motivated to get revenge on the girl that posted "all that junk" on Facebook.  They are motivated to do as little as possible and see who really gives a flying flip.  They are motivated to see if whining and crying about the simplest things will distract the teacher so much that he will forget about their inability to read.  They are motivated to write everything in “text speak” so that no one will really see that they can't write and don't know how to spell.  They are motivated to get back at their parents (or nowhere-to-be-found family members). 

My job is simple.  Teach the kids to read and write.  Teach them to love to learn for learning’s sake because if they are bribed to learn, their learning will prove fruitless.  Motivate the boy who only cares about getting high and the girl that only wants a boy to love her and will do anything for it.

It's easy...find what motivates them and use it.

Sorry for the rambling, but my frustration comes out in a jumbled mess.  I think about teaching other grades and about teaching in other counties, but would it really be different? And even if it was different, is God going to send these students anyone else that will put up with their bull? 

The grass looks greener on the other side; it even smells better and is cut in neat designs.  However, is that the place of greatest impact?  Is that the place that I will have the greatest impact?  Will these students eventually understand that they need to work harder than the privileged children to overcome their station in life? I guess only time will tell.

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