Monday, September 21, 2009

Righteous Frustration

I expect I will receive a few calls from parents tomorrow, or the next day. Admittedly, I sort of 'lost it' with my students today. Let me explain...

There may be a few readers who are unaware of this, but I am a special education teacher. I teach LRC kids, or Learning Resource. I also teach 2 specialty reading classes for kids who cannot decode words or cannot really understand what they read. My tirade was not aimed at them... not specifically at least.

No, I unleashed my inner "Bad Witch" on my 7th hour Resource kids. The purpose of Resource Class in middle school, at least as I see it, is to have time to get your homework done, catch up if you need to, or get extra help from the teacher. With 5 or 6 kids, it can be really more like a glorified tutoring session, but with 10 kids in the class, I get to the kids I can, and they take turns. The older ones often are willing to help out the younger ones, or they help where they are strong... It can work quite well.

Except when it doesn't. And in this case, it is not working because the majority of my students this year, or in this class specifically seem to not care a rats' tooshie about their grades. I have 5 kids who, amazingly enough, never seem to have any homework to do, except that they are FAILING their classes. F.A.I.L.I.N.G. And in this case, they do not care.

I have one kid who is, while cute enough, seemingly hell bent on doing NOTHING in my room at any and all costs. He is a master at procrastination, coming up daily with yet more excuses to be totally and completely devoid of effort or work. I have another one who gives me the same look that my dog does when I get mad at her; the total blank stare with the mouth hanging slightly ajar as if to either catch a fly or at risk of drooling.

It makes me wonder what their educators were like in their elementary schools. What DID these people do FOR these kids? Because as far as I can tell it was neither instilling a strong work ethic or teaching them coping skills for their deficits. I know one teacher spent every single afternoon and every lunch working with two students so they could pass. And while this is admirable on one hand, from a practical perspective, what she did in no way prepared them for middle school, or for high school, or for LIFE. I understand they have disabilities, but in the big, bad world, no one is going to stand over them and hold their hand while telling them what to do to be successful.

So I lost it. I told them that I did not want to hear from any of their parents (*which I know invites the calls... I know!!) when they get Fs on their report cards. It is not for lack of making accomodations or modifications to the curriculum. Having an IEP or being a special education student still earns you the right to FAIL if you do not participate in your learning.

Going around expecting other people to do everything for you is NOT the way to become a self-sufficient adult. The sooner people adopt the motto "If it is to be, it is up to me" the better off they will be.

1 comment:

OregonGirl said...

You go girl. A healthy work ethic and desire to succeed must be learned early, taught often, and reinforced with praise and reward at every opportunity.