Saturday, September 6, 2008

Getting Away with It - NOT!

I ran across a former summer school student from this past summer's remedial science course. She was a challenge, as she was often interrupting class with her talkative nature. She is not mean, not spiteful, and usually turned her work in. She asked me if I knew that she was sometimes texting in class? I did. I told her she wasn't the only one texting either. But, I told her I knew she was never texting during a test, and that she never cheated on an assignment. She also asked if I ever noticed that she sometimes ate chips in class. I said that the litter under her chair was a dead give away. Boy, did she go red in the face. I also told her that I knew she started dating one of the boys towards the end of classes. She went even redder!

She told me that she thought I was a good teacher, and that I was nicer to her than some of her previous teachers. I asked her if I had to be tougher on kids, and that if I had been tougher on her would she have perfomed better. She said no, and that she would have done less work for me. She has always been honest with me, so I find no reason to doubt her now.

I guess with a tough crowd, you pick your battles. She was producing, and she was passing. Maybe next year I won't let students text each other, but it doesn't seem much different than kids whispering quietly to each other, and it disrupts people less than note passing. Also 90 minutes is a long class time to go without a break, especially for early morning classes where many students skip breakfast. Maybe we need to find a place where the kids can eat and work at the mid point outside the science lab for safety sake.

But, maybe the best lesson was that she learned that teachers see more than they let on. Perhaps we ought to periodically let our students know that sometimes we don't sweat the small stuff, but that they aren't really getting away with anything.


Mrs. Holder said...

My kids this year are calling me the "gum police" because I have such a knack for catching them. I just ask that they spit it the trash can; no punishment. And it works wonderfully. Sure I have to tell the same students every day to put their gum in the trash. On some days, I don't mess with it and I have had some kids say you haven't ask ..... to spit her gum out. Did you not see it?

That said. I have had many students come back and tell me that they wish all teachers could be like me. I don't take those comments lightly nor do they go to my head. I think I develop a rapport with those challenging students because I don't hassle them over the small things and let them have ownership of their learning. If a kid has no home, or is on the streets until the wee hours of the morning, do I really need to address with him the fact he doesn't have paper and pencil. He is present and perhaps he can learn something during a lab or discussion during that hour.

So yes I agree with you and the statements you made in your post.

James Gill said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I think it is very interesting that some students ask you if you didn't see them chewing gum. Maybe they just need consistency, and want to know that you are still watching over them and still care.