It's been a busy school year thus far and so in between getting ready (with a new "organized" and "adult" looking teacher desk space), trying on a new math program, and grad school assignments that keep piling on, I haven't had a chance to reflect, embrace and officially blog my "hello" to what is bound to be another great year. #19!! Where did the years go?
I thought I would take an opportunity for the first time ever to reflect on the first few days of school in a different way. Sure, they are exciting. New schedules, new students, new smiles, new energy. But all of this requires a level of energy teachers likely haven't tapped into for months. Some of us had an opportunity to rest and rejuvenate more than others, but finding the energy to be 110% every moment of the first few weeks is difficult.
Yet in those moments when you can't imagine having to repeat something which feels so obvious for the 1 millionth time in 7 days of classes you find something that keeps you going. For me, it was this group conversation.
Me: "So boys, I want to share with you my homework policy. To begin, you have received a 100% on last night's homework because it appears to me you have all given the assignment a good shot and have completed every question"
Boy: "So what your saying is no matter if they are right or wrong I get a 100%?"
Me: "Yes, as long as it is here by the beginning of the class period and you include all necessary work"
The excitement in the air was clear. I crossed my fingers and hoped we could move on, as I asked "Are their any questions?" (of course their are-duh!)
Boy: "Why do you grade homework this way?"
Me: "Well I am aware that many of you have different home lives and levels of support for homework. My intent is that we all try our best, use the resources we have and then come in and ask questions about what was confusing. In the end, I just want everyone to try their best and then use it as a learning too." I went on to describe that some students get their work corrected at home with a chance to redo and therefore them earning a 100% while another hardworking students who doesn't get their papers corrected by parents or tutors before class and earns a lower grade doesn't seem fair.
They seemed to agree. Again, I crossed my fingers. The conversation went on with a few confirming questions and then it came..
Boy: "So can't I just kind of fake it, put down some numbers and hand it in and claim I don't understand?"
As I was about to explain (for the 19th year in a row) that it would be a waste of time, that you wouldn't learn anything that way, that in fact it was just turn into required extra help or academic discipline issues, the boy (that appeared in prior days to be least likely to say the right thing at this moment) raised his hand. I took a chance...(that's is what teaching is about).
Boy: "Seems like an awful waste of time, we are supposed to do homework to get something out of it."
And while I was quite positive their could be a dozen more what if's and questions... I left it at that. With the hope that the leadership of this young boy prevails in the weeks to come and that this year we learn and do simply because we want to get something out of it.
Good Luck to all who are starting teaching for the first time and to those of us who despite our tenure have an easy time forgetting over the months how hard these first few weeks are. And for those of you not in teaching but are connected to teachers... be patient with us in September, it's a hard month!