Thursday, September 25, 2008

Define “It”

As the quarter rushes forward and with only two weeks left, after-school tutorials become more popular. It’s like there’s suddenly an 8th period. There are THAT many kids in my classroom. For a lot of them, they don’t need too much extra help, it’s more like they need a place where they KNOW they will actually stay on task and finish their work. Where they can sit with like minds who are doing the same work and talk about the novel and get in some extra literature discussion while they tackle the “critical thinking questions.”

Monday afternoon four boys who have never been to tutorial plunk themselves down at the round table right by my desk. They pull out their study guides for the novel and one of them announces, I need help. The others make utterances along the same line.

I twirl my rollie chair around and scootch over to the table.

OK. Where are you stuck? Which question is giving you a hard time?

The boy who can enunciate looks at me and says, I don’t get it.

Ok what don’t you get?

It. I don’t get it.

The other three boys chime in. Me too. I don’t get it. Me too. I don’t get it either.

That's pretty broad. Give me a place to start. Define "it".

My eyes are purveying the table and as the boys use their hands to flatten out their study guides, which are crumpled and sad from being at the bottom of their backpacks, I notice all of their study guides are COMPLETELY BLANK. They have had the fourth and last study guide since the previous Wednesday.

Boy one says, The book. I don’t get IT.

Me too, the book. Me too. Me too.

Give me a place to start. Where did you get lost?

Can’t we just start with the first question Miss. You help us answer the questions, like tell us the answer in your words and then we put it in our words?

I need to figure out what you understand and don’t understand from your reading.

Oh. I didn’t read the book. I don’t read books. It’s not my learning style. I don’t like reading.

Me too. Me too. Yeah, I don’t read books at all.

You're in 10th grade English. You are on your way to earning a high school diploma. You’re going to have to read the book.

Isn’t there a movie we can watch? You sure you can’t just give us the answers? Isn’t that what tutorial is for?

14 comments:

Jay Jay said...

Been there, heard that. When my students say I don't get it, I always say yes you do it's right there on your desk. This usually encourages them to say I don't understand. In a junior high school I often hear the same. Well at least we know it's a global problem

only a movie said...

Sadly, a lot of cool someones have bragged about not reading books. I've seen it in the media quite a bit.

I've heard it over and over. I've heard fairly "educated" adults brag about this. Like they are too busy to read. The rest of their lives are too important...

Ridiculous.

But on the plus side, your students *can* read. I have a few non-readers this year.

goodfather said...

LOL - I am SO going through this with my 16-year-old son right now! His teacher called me at home on a Saturday to tell me that there's a certain autobiography (Ben Franklin's) that my boy should be reading...

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Glad to know itls not just me and my class. Thanks everyone.

Movie - That is hard when they can't read at all. I had a few like that whenI taught in the alternative HS. And if you venture back - am curious who those celebs were...

Kristan said...

Oh geez...

thistle said...

Hmmm...sounds like short-term sacrifice in hopes of long-term gain...ie give up a little time after school, and get the answers straight from teacha...i haven't been in the school system in a long time...at what grade level does the shift from wanting-to-learn-everything to wanting-to-slack-off-as-much-as-possible happen these days?...

Robin said...

I can't decide what's sadder -- that they so readily accept that there should be a way out of this without doing any work for themselves, or that or culture perpetuates that type of thinking.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I have actually been to a couple of meetings with parents of students who are failing, and had parents tell me, "I don't read books and I do alright..."
Yes, I think it is sad. Thankfully, I have a lot of students this year who are enjoying the process of reading and discussion.

shaunna said...

as a pessimist i'm afraid i find this thread just a tad depressing... yet the optimist battles and hopes that maybe just one will complete the read and come to you and say, "miss, i get it!"

hope springs eternal.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

These four boys do not represent the majority of the class. And one of them came to discussion today ready to start talking, so who knows...

D'Arcy said...

I am a 10th grade English teacher too! I so understand this. I had a kid come in yesterday.

Miss Bee, I need help.

Ok, what do you need help with? Be specific.

I just need help.

Ok, with what?

I can't put it into words, just help me!


With vocab? With grammar? With your essay? With Kafka?

It's like trying to solve a puzzle with every one!!!

Romi said...

I don't read...the three words that can kill a librarian:-) Thanks for visiting my blog and you just about killed me with your funny comment about the "handy" toilet poster. Too funny! I laughed out loud.

Manager Mom said...

*sigh* I just taught my first class in about 15 years - I did an adjunct thing at a local university. I assigned extra credit. For five students, the extra credit would have changed their grade by a half grade. I told them all of their status. Not ONE of them did the extra credit.

sherri said...

"I don't read books. It's not my learning style." that is priceless. And sad.