Monday, May 11, 2009

How to keep 'em hooked.

As the school year draws to a close, students and teachers alike are excited, to say the very least, about being free from each others' bondage. With only three weeks left of school, some have resorted to crossing days off there calendars. Others are crossing off minutes. Yes, I DO have such a calendar.

With the disruption the Swine Flu break brought us, these last three weeks are even more stressful and eventful than usual as we try to finish AP exams, squeeze in those darned TAKS tests, not to mentioned Prom, awards assemblies, and end-of-the-year banquets for every possible student group on campus (excluding the small start-up organization called "Students Against End-Of-Year-Banquets").

As a teacher who is too lazy to plan nothing, it's been increasingly difficult lately to impart my mathematical knowledge, and as usual, I am relegated to the role of "coaxer," "cajoler," desperately trying to pull each and every student across the finish line. Threats of "holding them in low esteem," or "taking away their birthday," are of little consequence. Even for some of the most conscientious senior students, the threat of a string of zeroes in the grade book becomes a moot motivator, as senior class rank came to a close at the end of the last grading period.

For those students who are still awake in class, it has become amusing to hear their private conversations that are taking place while I'm lecturing about volumes of solids of revolutions and central angles of pie charts. They're giddy over prom, excited about their new tan, and sad that the television season is showing its finales. Some are still giddy over the math itself, or maybe it's just me being extraordinarily silly, entertaining, bombastic, sarcastic, and "creepy." With ears in the back of my head (and behind my kneecaps. . . . . nevermind), I can still hear all the individual conversations over the roar of my loud, exaggerated voice and dramatic antics. Occasionally, I hear something so salacious or something I can deliberately misinterpret that I stop myself mid-leap, mid-sentence, mid-equation and draw attention to the conversation in a way that leaves the conservationists feeling embarrassed, guilty, and impressed with my ability to do things like that. Everyone else just temporarily stops their conversations and gives each other that "look" that says, "Wheeew. I'm glad he didn't mortify US," and "What a crazy, psycho with strange-looking ears behind his kneecaps we have as a teacher."

But I digest, especially after lunch.

I think the real key for any teacher this time of year is to realize that although you WISH the students would respect you and owe you their attention and best efforts by now, that it is still our responsibility to capture their attention first, to instruct second. Additionally, a savvy teacher does not give students the slightest chance to "drive the bus," but must rather set the tone from the moment the students enter the class. Keep them on their toes. Keep them off balance. Keep that fire stoked beneath their little tootsies.

But there's a method to my madness.

If that means having them think that you forgot to take your medicine that morning, so be it. How fun is it to be totally understood by everyone anyway? If it means not actually taking your medicine that morning, be careful. How fun is it to be misunderstood AND depressed with a bad heart and a bad case of foot fungus?

No. We definitely want to life to teach another day. Another year. It's why we got into this business to begin with. But that doesn't mean we don't enjoy our summers!

But I digest . . .


LC said...

My favorite saying the last 3 weeks is "It's due at the end of the period for a quiz grade".

bob s said...

I hear that Lauren, that used to be mine too.