Note: This was to be done at the BEGINNING of November. I’ve been struggle to write even though my mind is cluttered with stuff to get out. Please excuse my lack of commitment and enjoy today’s blog! 🙂
First, Happy November!! For Halloween we enjoyed no trick or treaters (again) and watching Hocus Pocus for the 104 time. It never fails to make me giggle and that what I love about it.
It was a welcome contrast to the school day. Normally, I don’t write about individual days, but this is one that just is stuck. We did an activity where students were asked to think about their future, a hard thing for sixth graders. I had them write down words they’d like to hear others use to describe them, then their “biggest dream”, another difficult idea for sixth graders to wrap their brains around (heck it’s tough for ME to do this!).
We got the typical “I want to be a NFL player” or “I want to be a doctor” and with those responses, we talked about what are you doing to make that happen? Are you watching what you eat? Are you using your time wisely? Are you practicing on your free time? All this leads back to our habit we are discussing “Begin with the End in Mind”. I could see the wheels turning: if I want to be a doctor, I have to be learning how to study NOW. If I want to be a NASCAR driver, I need to be competing NOW. It was eye opening for some of my students, and in a good way.
But I had those students, in sixth grade, who said “I don’t care” and actually got angry with him when I pushed them to care. When I told them not caring was an option, they pushed back with “It doesn’t matter anyway, my mom/brother/step dad/dad/sister just tell me I’m stupid and can’t do it.”
I’m not saying my wife and I are perfect parents, far from it, these kids have been leveled by life, at SIXTH GRADE. How does this even happen? Where have we failed as a society that it’s ok to tell anyone that their dreams are stupid and that you “can’t do it.”? We’ve always told our daughters, “Ok, we support you. Now, what’s your plan? How are you going to make this happen?”
You want to be a software engineer? Sweet (you’ll take care of me later on!), what’s your plan? How will you make this happen? How can we help?
You want to transfer schools and get into dairy science? Outstanding! What’s your plan? How will you make this happen? How can we help?
So, for those students who DON’T have a plan, who DON’T look long term, or who DON’T have parents who can be involved with their lives or whose involvement brings pain, who can we help them to care? How can we create the mindset where, they see their choices will not be good ones, and reset to make better choices?
I’m struggling with this like never before because I have this all over my classroom right now. Apathy, discouragement, horribly negative attitudes, all of it and it’s wearing. Today was probably my worst day with my own attitude because we had a grim staff meeting in the morning (whole different post), and the student started right in. So much anger and attitude, not necessarily directed at me, but right in my face all the same. It was really, really hard to keep positive in the face of all of it.
However, to finish this night up, Daniel Pink has this great email listserv called (go figure) The Pinkcast. He gives helpful tips in between 90 and 110 seconds. Today’s topic was timely: civility. The newsletter video talks about the 10-5 rule: if you are within 10 feet of someone, acknowledge them with eye contact and a smile. If you are within 5 feet, greet them! Imagine, students greeting you (and each other) because it’s the right thing to do!
So, “I don’t care” is a tough one, but if we keep trying with the positive talk, we get him to greet someone every day, and IF we can help him find something he’s excited about, things can turn around.
What about you? What are you willing to do to not be the “Grump Teacher”? 🙂