Sunday, October 23, 2005

Exhaustion

I can't believe that a week has gone by without my posting. In my defense, I have been enjoying responding to others' blogs. It's the thinking, the mulling of ideas that counts, right?

Here's what's on my mind now: I have a little boy in my class, a physically beautiful tyke, elfish, huge eyes and long lush eyelashes.... with the personality of PeterPan meets the Tazmanian Devil. He hates, truly hates anything that smacks of traditional class work, and even play and learn activities are rebuffed when he figures out that we WANT him to do them. Power and control are his primary goals. It's been a challenge. Partly because he is so damn cute, he has gotten away with sooo much. He just doesn't believe we mean what we say and say what we mean. Not yet.

In fact, he is being exposed to very little in the way of the curriculum. Our curriculum at this point is to teach the joys and necessities of compliance.

Kids who comply with the routines and rules of the classroom do the fun stuff. Kids who don't, miss out. Kids who want to use scissors and the hole punch do so AFTER they do what they are supposed to do. You like to use my new pencils with virgin erasers? Then here are several math problems we have to do together first. You'd like to go visit your favorite counselor Mrs. D? You need to clean up first. EVERYTHING IS SET UP ON A CONTINGENCY. EVERYTHING. IT'S EXHAUSTING.

We are making progress. Everyone says so. It's slow. More of a one-step-forward-two-steps-back kind of progress. But it's hard.

Most people understand this. Teaching for mastery is tough. Addressing difficult behaviors, learning problems, and mental illnesses can be overwhelming. That's all understandable. People get that part of it.

It's the why we do it that stymies folks. And tonight, I am wondering the same thing. Is this my "Mr. Babylon" moment? I'm too tired to decide one way or the other.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Amerloc said...

Why we do it? Because we know it matters, because we care, because we're good at it, because it satisfies something in us - any number of reasons.

And we get "too tired to decide" because it takes so much out of us. And we get recharged when it gives us back something magical.

Fred said...

And I've gone a full week without commenting. I guess we're all pretty busy.

Sorry I've been absent for awhile - once I catch up with my new AP class, I'll be back on a more regular basis!

Erin said...

I had a subsitute teaching assistant in my classroom today. As usually happens, she made comments about how hard I was on my students. Yes, I expect them to follow the rules and routines. I expect them to do small group work or eat snack when they'd rather be doing something else. What my subs don't often understand though, is that I'm not doing it to be the big bad teacher. There is some learning that needs to take place in my classroom!

You are right....compliance is exhausting.

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