Saturday, August 16, 2008

I’m an instructor, mainly teaching high school seniors in a technical program.
In a few days I’ll be starting my seventh year of this….

Now, I may not be the brightest crayon in the box, but I notice trends after a while.
Each year has been more challenging, for several different reasons. Inane requirements from administration are par for the course, and we can deal with that. “Ve haf Ways!”

No…. what concern me are the students we have been getting.

Each year… it gets harder and harder to actually teach our curriculum. Never mind we are required to prepare them for testing they did the year before coming to us. (Think about that sentence a while). We can deal with little flashes of insanity like that. It’s the kids themselves that are changing.

Last year another instructor summed it up quite neatly. They were the “Neediest bunch of kids we ever had”. They wanted everything handed to them, tied with a ribbon and work free. They had been trained to demand this by the modern school system, and when they hit our world culture shock set in. We ram as much into nine months as a post secondary tech school covers in eighteen months, and at the same level. There is no time for playing catch up.

In looking back, this is the trend that most troubles me. Each year we are spending more of our precious time trying first to undo a decade of training to be incompetent before we can begin training to be useful. Some students start out Okay, coming from parents who care. Other kids are just naturally sharp enough to see the flaws and overcome them.

Most…… most of the young ones think life is a video game and there’s a big reset button that gives them a new turn for free.

Right off the bat…. from day one…. we are facing some serious challenges above and beyond the issue I just noted. We’ll have two deaf students, and they will require two school supplied interpreters just to keep up in theory, let alone lab work. We’ll also have two non-English speaking students, with two more interpreters to deal with. That means four interpreters who must learn the program slightly ahead of the students in order to keep up (God help them).
Each time they lose track, we can't stop. There is no time to catch up.

Then, there is the large student with ‘anger management issues’. We were told he may just get up and walk out anytime he wishes, as that is his ‘accommodation’.
Each time he pulls that stunt he will fall behind.... and there is no time to catch up.

Then, there is the ability gap. I have been warned more than half our incoming class will have one learning disability or another…… a class of 50+ high school students with two instructors, taught at a post secondary level (college).

Then, just to keep the fun coming, I have also been warned through back channels we may have up to six ‘adult’ students dumped into this mix without warning. These can vary from someone who honestly wants the education to someone who is being parked there by a social program picking up the tab (because they have run out of ways to ‘store’ the person). We not only get no choice on the adult students, we don’t even get a warning.

This year, I am worried. The load gets heavier… and how many kids will we lose, when we could have helped them?


Earl said...

I think reading this would help your students understand why they are expected to be more than they think they are... or something like that. Undo a decade of training to be incompetent... I was saved from boredom by a metallurgy tech class as a Junior and Senior - one or two of my classmates went into the field, but then we had good schools long ago and far away.

William the Coroner said...

You do what you can in the time you have.

As I get older, I've become more and more of a (quiet) hard-ass. I set the table before the students. Whether they partake or not, that's up to them. I model, I teach, but if they don't listen, too bad. Eventually, you gotta get with the program or you die.

And the anger management guy? It's a shop. Keep an eye on him, but a tyre iron goes a long way to resolving some anger management issues. Aim for the bridge of the nose, or where the skull meets the neck.

Trust me, I'm a doctor.

Shrugged says: said...

William, I try to detach like that, but it doesn't work for me. I end up down in the trenches with the kids because that's how I teach.

Anonymous said...

My wife is a teacher and while I can't go into specifics you have to wonder if some of this is the result of the "No Child Left Behind" program because I think what you have described is pretty much true with public schooling all over.

I believe we, as a nation, NEED a return to some level of Corporal Punishment and legal immunity for teachers in certain instances.

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Shrugged says: said...

Mr. James, I have to agree.

NCLB may be a part of it, but society had been headed that way long before the legislation was in place.

As for my program, I have very little serious discipline to sweat. My kids seem to behave pretty damn good for me most days.

No... what I would like to do is omething else, and it would never be allowed. I'd like to automatically drop the last 15% by grades each semester. Kid doesn't want to be dropped, he can work for it.