Keep, Change, Start, Stop 2014

Following Math=Love’s idea, I decided to have my students fill out a “Keep/Change/Start/Stop” sheet where for each heading, students gave me 2-3 suggestions.

It sucked. It made me sad. You’ll see why (scroll down for data).  I was tempted to edit or write disclaimers, but instead, I recorded all their suggestions.

 In general, students were broadly in favor of the social studies notebooks and the social studies powerpoints.  I didn’t think they were that great, but I guess it’s because during power points, kids didn’t have to take too much notes, and the social studies notebooks were pretty simple to do (I cut down SS homework a LOT this year because I did acknowledge that we gave way too much homework last year).  They also mainly liked the kim kash system, and some acknowledged that I tried in class.  They also liked the science labs.

There are quite a few things kids want me to stop doing that are against school regulations: namely, lessen homework load, lessen the amount of tests, change the detention and field trip policy, change after school tutoring (which I can’t because my school forced me to keep a minimum of 10 students enrolled in 9 hours of after school “tutoring” which was SO horrible that I stayed after school for the majority of the days of the week so that kids would have an actual quiet place to do work) and get rid of the red and yellow folders (a homework method that our whole organization implements).  That’s out of my hands, and some of the suggestions that kids gave made a lot of sense.  Sadly, it’s not up to me.

There are quite a few things kids suggested that I change that made me irritated.  I can recognize handwriting at this point and some of the suggestions to start/stop just seemed to fortify the fact that I hadn’t really effected any sort of change in them.  They urged that I stop projects, let them sit anywhere they wanted, stop the lit circles, or even stop “trying new things.”  Honestly, I know I pushed them this year, because kids were chill with taking notes, reciting, reviewing, memorizing, and moving on.  This year, I tried to push them to higher heights in Bloom’s taxonomy and I made sure we were always pushing our thinking higher.  Some kids, I definitely had to pull, but hello, I am not going to stop my intensity just because they’re lazy.

There was definitely a very valid pattern and problem in my discipline style in that kids felt unfairly punished and felt that I yelled a lot.  I will definitely own up to that.  Yet, I would also like to say that my school affords me very little alternatives. It’s really hard to teach all 4 subjects, be with kids 24/7, and have no back up support.  I try to keep kids in my class because sending them to the office is a sure ticket to cleaning duties.  Anyway, I’m just saying that classroom management is closely influenced by school culture.  And it sucked.  It just feels like, how do I run a class calmly if every other teacher also yells (or curses), and so nobody listens to me until I yell?

Also, yeah it sucks to punish the whole class, but what do you expect me to do?  when it’s more than a few kids doing it, how am I supposed to figure out who did it/ who didn’t?

Students were divided about the money system, and to be honest, I hated the classroom microeconomy too, and I’ll try a different thing next year.  I was also surprised that kids wanted me to start exit tickets… I do exit tickets.  What did they mean? I didn’t do it so much in ELA or science, did they mean that?

I think in general, I felt a bit surprised by the lack of acknowledgement or even gratitude.  We got a pet this year: instead of a thanks, they wanted more pets.  I allowed them to not be in rows and columns but groups (I was the only teacher who did this): now they wanted to pick where they sat.  I decreased the number of tests: they wanted even fewer tests.  I introduced lit circles so that low readers could finally focus on comprehension rather than just decoding or being lost: those kids wanted to stop the lit circles.  I helped one girl get an IEP: she wants me to slow down on everything rather than modify.

I don’t think it’s entirely their fault — our school harbors an “all is earned” policy that honestly cultivates a slightly arrogant mentality.  During our field trips, kids usually just complained or offered an improvement suggestion.  The most I got was, “It was fun.”

Obviously, I’m not doing this for gratitude, but it begins to wear on you when there are no verbal or written acknowledgements on Teacher’s Appreciation Day, Christmas, or the end of the school year.  I try to model it by writing thank you notes and having students write thank yous to other people, but I never asked it for myself.

I agree with the students: we should focus on more projects, more engaging tasks, and less punitive measures.  Did I try to change it within my own classroom? Oh you bet I did.  And I sort of want to tell them, “hey, I know our year was tough, but I planned so many things for you, went out of my way to make sure we do academically meaningful projects, and that you guys aren’t just multiple-choice testing bots.  Look at X’s class.  Sure they got less homework, and yeah, X doesn’t yell as much.  Instead, at the end of the year,  he took only the good kids on one field trip to see a movie at the mall and go bowling.  THAT IS NOT A LEARNING EXPERIENCE. ”

I also know that I was pretty stickler with school rules, but that’s just how I am!  I follow rules!

And that’s something I hate about this place.  No matter how hard you try, if the school culture is set in a certain direction, kids are so resistant to what you’re doing  (Example: PAT stands for Preferred Activity Time, which implies there some sort of academic activity.  Since all the teachers let their kids out for free time in the yard, every time I try to give them a choice of an activity, they protest and lose the buy-in).  They gang up against you, gossip about you, and don’t understand why you’re frustrated at their persistent desire for complacency.  I don’t think they intend to be malicious – I think it’s just common.  Since we don’t have avenues for real talk, modifications, etc, (well technically we do, but let’s be real – I only have 24 hours in a day – how do I modify 4 separate subjects for different kids when I barely have content material learned), at the end, there is no meaning behind the learning we do.  All we say is, “You guys are working hard! You’re getting smart! You’re gonna succeed!”  And so my kids move on.

I wonder if at a new place I’d be able to not yell.  I wonder if at a new place, kids would understands that projects are not out of the ordinary.  I wonder if at a new place, I could take all the students on a field trip because I wouldn’t be short-staffed nor told to take people off my field trip list.  I wonder if at a new place, kids wouldn’t mind tests because they would actually be prepared (as opposed to rushing through a lesson to finish the whole textbook) and tests wouldn’t be so back-to-back.  I wonder if at a new place, I’d be able to tweak my homework into something reasonable.  I wonder if at a new place, kids wouldn’t say stupid things like “stop assigning reading out of class.”  I wonder if at a new place, students would take responsibility for the things they want me to change/stop.

They have so much potential, but such little intrinsic drive.

So what if they know a lot? I feel pretty useless – because after these past two years, nobody wants to take the road less taken.

KEEP:

  • projector for notes, movies, etc
  • lab experiments in class.
  • kindness
  • the helping for field trips
  • the slideshow notes
  • finding a way for heping a student
  • lit circles
  • PAT time
  • kim kash
  • class money system
  • rewards/movies/field trips to hard workers
  • privileges from class
  • everything
  • giving detention for inappropriate behavior
  • notebooks
  • the notes we do in a notebook
  • the lit circles
  • popsicle sticks and auctions
  • power points
  • auctions
  • homework checkers
  • I would like to keep how strict the school is like the detentions, saturday, and Friday schools and uniform policy
  • should keep everything
  • keep the history notes book
  • keep the money and job system
  • doing your work
  • working hard
  • keep powerpoints
  • keep pictures
  • keep main points in history
  • doing SS
  • giving PAT time
  • being a teacher
  • creativity
  • determanity
  • being caring & funny
  • projecting notes onto the board
  • science experiments because they help us learn better
  • the way that you teach
  • the cheat sheets
  • trying to make lessons fun
  • projects
  • pushing your kid to their limit
  • seating arrangements
  • groups/jobs
  • jepardy/reading groups
  • powerpoint notes for social studies
  • game we played for each unit
  • civil war game

CHANGE:

  • give less hw
  • nothing
  • money
  • going to fast on the subjects
  • not giving examples to see
  • your way of punishing everyone because of one person
  • homework -> less strict on little things – > differnet punishments (30 min after school)
  • amount hw -> to maybe 3 big things
  • Jobs (4 class jobs) -> to more sufficient time
  • the money system
  • the way you teach
  • the kim kash money system
  • giving social studies unit tests
  • red and yellow folders
  • they way to take notes
  • discipline
  • lines for everyone to lines for those disturbing
  • the way of organizing groups
  • how you teach science – should be like history
  • the testing format
  • some ways to make learning fun
  • maybe you should change the way of taking notes, and the mini-projects
  • some rules
  • some ideas
  • frustration
  • tutoring hours
  • seating rules
  • rules in class
  • class arrangement
  • have more fun w/ class
  • the amount of homework given
  • the way you lose children in fieldtrips
  • the way you do project
  • don’t put too much detail on the project
  • sitting arrangement
  • writing
  • homework
  • some notes to pictures
  • half notes and some pictures
  • early risers

START

  • having everything planned out
  • making math fun by relating to real life problems
  • cheat sheets for ELA, SS, Science
  • letting students go to restroom
  • put kids on a table so they could help each others
  • help them how to write notes on ther own
  • giving out more freedom to the kids who actually do work
  • sticking to 1 thing: ex: keep the money system, no break outs
  • giving 3 big homeworks than 10
  • adding fun to class/teaching
  • having more educational games to have students get involved
  • introducing more projects to your class
  • giving out more pop quizzes and challenge the students
  • exit tickets
  • giving exit tickets
  • organizing binders
  • more activities. for example, yearbook, chess, soccer, or even tutoring
  • having cheat sheets on science
  • giving more group work
  • start giving students more time to do homework during class, and more ways to earn PAT points
  • doing something fun
  • make teaching fun
  • listening to the students
  • having more group work
  • doing more jeopardy games
  • more projects, less hw
  • giving less tests
  • using desk arrangements
  • having more pets
  • being more calm
  • teaching Social Studies in a more interesting way
  • to make some projects a little more fun
  • don’t make a lesson confusing
  • trying to know them
  • try to be a friend not a teacher
  • cheat sheets
  • games
  • homework passes
  • not read books at home, out of school

STOP

  • Losing students in field trips
  • Yelling
  • nothing
  • screaming
  • giving kids independence time because kids get stuck
  • testing new methods of teaching, because it usually just wastes time
  • maybe not full time detention but half depending on what they did
  • detention next day — instead, let some of them do it on that day
  • picking on any one person
  • making students write letters to them (i’m assuming this refers to Donorschoose)
  • selling items to other students
  • the Outside Reading Book reports
  • speeches
  • folders for homework
  • red and yellow folders
  • giving us so many lectures
  • the economy thing
  • on ELA, stop giving class book reading
  • stop giving so many projects and essays and figure out a way to instead of punishing the whole class, only the student who misbehaves
  • getting whole class in trouble
  • making it boring
  • being angry at the whole class
  • stop giving a lot of hw
  • giving hw
  • giving detentions
  • after school tutoring
  • leaving much hw
  • explain hw a little better
  • class economy
  • yelling
  • getting mad for little things
  • don’t get too excited for something
  • trying to keep all students in class
  • nothing
  • lit circles
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One response to “Keep, Change, Start, Stop 2014

  1. Hi Junia,
    In my 11 years teaching nearly every class I’ve taught given the opportunity to do an activity like this give me a similar response; so don’t feel that’s it’s just you. Sure there are things you can probably change, we all can; but the bottom line is that these are children who aren’t mature enough to really see the necessity in what you are trying to do. They see an opportunity to moan and be little shits! I bet if you pressed them on the lessons and structures they would be hard pushed to really fault it beyond that they simple don’t want to do it. They would probably even begrudgingly admit to the positive education experience that you dragged them kicking and scream through. So yes you are doing a good job…end of.

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