Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why I Have Really Grey Hair

I started going grey at 18, but I swear, the amount of grey has just exploded with this year's crop of seventh graders. I'll be solid silver by the time May hits.

Today we the last of our five benchmark days, and it was science. The kids hate benchmarks. They know they don't count towards their grades (although we put the score on PowerSchool so mom and dad could see it, should they care). They don't like that it messes up their routine. And they see it as a huge waste of time. Frankly, they really hate standardized tests of any kind.

I've been hearing the rest of the team moaning and freaking out over their scores which were just awful. It seemed they got lower as the week went by. So, when I went and scanned them this morning to see how they did, I wasn't expecting great things.

The good news? I had one proficient on the last benchmark. This time I had eight.

This is still, to me, unacceptable.

Mrs. Duck, Mrs. Eagle and I all had similar scores. Mrs. Eagle and I have never had scores this low in the three years we've been doing benchmarks. Ever. (Mrs. Duck is new to our school so she doesn't have any scores to compare.)

So I had a bit of a Come To Jesus meeting with these kids, especially since they couldn't wait to get their scores. They were sure they did fantastic.

I hated to burst their bubble, but burst it I did.

It was an interesting conversation. I laid it all there for them. Told them their scores were the lowest I've seen - and I knew they could do better (especially my advanced kids). Told them what they did well on (Mitosis) and what was weak (Cell organelles - this killed them as we spent weeks on this). Told them that last year the seventh grade overall had a 90% homework turn in percentage. This year? We're at 50%. I reminded them that they're only a year and a half away from high school - where there's no second chances, no late work, no passing unless you earn it.

They were pretty honest. They admitted to never studying their vocabulary words, not doing homework, not trying their best. They admitted, for the most part, that they don't like failure, but weren't motivated enough to really do much about it.

So I asked them what motivated them, what would get them to turn on the jets and start performing at the level I know they can.

The answer? There wasn't one. They couldn't really come up with anything that motivated them.

I find this tragic. And frustrating beyond belief.


Peach Pod said...

I'm going through the same thing this year. The 8th grade group I have are well known for their lack of academic concern and for their behavior issues. This is actually my 2nd year with some of them as I taught 7th grade last year. They simply don't care. They are a rampant product of social promotion and believe they will make it through inspite of lacking core skills. It isn't a question of what will motivate them. It is a question of what it will take to make them care.

Ms Characterized said...

They couldn't think of anything? Whoa. I just...don't know what to say. I hope they find something, anything, that inspires them. I'm thinking good thoughts for you. said...

If I did not know better, I would swear you are one of our ninth grade academy teachers. We hear are hearing the exact same words that you are using, except it's not as new here. We've seen years of dismal results (we are like year 8 in program improvement) but this year is the worst.

Darren said...

Sadly, I'm not surprised.