May 31 2011

Teach you a lesson

by Robin Thicke

I’ve been spending a lot of time teaching and doing observations in the rather affluent district in which I received my primary and secondary education. I find myself tackling some strange sensations. I see a lot of time wasting (while acknowledging that it’s the end of the year so the time-wasting might not be typical) and a lot of silly stuff. For example (and keep in mind I do yoga like every morning and I love it) a teacher I observed spent 15 minutes doing yoga with her students (do that after school, duh!). One of her 2nd grade students can’t distinguish between the blended sounds ish and ush and she’s doing yoga during school hours, wtf? Some sick sad part of me was like “more time for my students to catch up to hers” who through a confluence of circumstances will likely, still do better on standardized tests than mine. How can that even be?


On another note – I was teaching a 5th grade class when the subject of the UEFA championship came up. Really I should have just redirected the conversation to the work at hand, but made the rookie mistake of engaging in the conversation. I could feel myself holding back the insults that I would usually hurl at a Manchester United fan. It was difficult to be sure, but it was kind of useful because the kids were 1 – shocked that I knew anything about soccer and 2 – so excited to talk about soccer with me that I could reward hard work with a few second conversation about the upcoming game and leave me and the kids feeling pretty satiated. Now that the game is over and my team (VAMOS BARCA) won – all I want to do is rub it in – but alas, that doesn’t build a relationship and it doesn’t show the respect and love I want to convey to students.

I told the students I would soon have my own classroom and asked if they had any feedback for me. One incredibly bright young woman told me “our teacher lets us work at our own pace and work independently. You should do that because then each student can work on their level.” I swallowed my laughter and thanked for the feedback. Can I just say NO F**KING WAY is that happening in my classroom. My students will work at the level that I determine to be necessary so that they can catch and hopefully surpass their more affluent peers. I will set the pace and the standards for work in my classroom. I will demand that students work tremendously hard every single day. “My own pace….” hilarious and so silly. So sad for the students that approach leaves behind but (evil laugh) more room for my students to catch up.

Another student told me to be strict and to provide structure – I’m pretty sure I’m gonna stick with that advice.

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