Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fear of a Bad Note

I was warned.

10th graders. After lunch. While looking over the roll sheet, I found several familiar names (and not in a good way). So, I knew that I was in for it.

They had an assignment. (It was an English class.) I explained it to them. I pointed out that it was written on the board. Yet, still I got, "I don't know what to do," whines from them.

I walked the room. I asked those that did not have the book open, paper out, and work done what they were doing. I got all sorts of creative excuses. I repeated that they needed to get to work. They didn't.

After making the circuit several times, I found that I tended to remain standing over the same students over and over. They'd made no progress on their assignment. They were playing around. They were playing Rock-Paper-Scissors (sorry, RoPaSci) across the room.

I went back up to the front of the room. I started writing down names.

Suddenly, I had their attention. ("She's writing the note! Everybody, stop talking.") It was half way through the period. They'd had plenty of time to settle and work. Instead, the noise level had increased. Yet, my writing the note struck fear in them. They tried to settle.

They failed.

I'm not sure why they suddenly cared. The teacher had been having problems with them (hence, the warning). They didn't care when I asked them to do work. But me writing it down somehow struck home. For a few minutes, anyway.

10th grade is the year that most of them mature. I can't wait.

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