We began the second semester last week, and already I see that some of my students have decided to revert to first semester behavior. I speak of the “if I don’t do it, then it will go away” mindset. Indications of late work known as zeroes pollute my grade book. A student failed my class for the first semester and thinks I am “mean.” Child, you have no idea what mean actually is. Use the dictionary in my classroom; it is defined as malicious or selfish. Neither word applies when it comes to my classroom. I have high standards for my students in my classroom. This is not mean. I want you to succeed in my classroom; therefore, I have rules about how you conduct yourself. If the rules aren’t obeyed, then you have failed yourself. Another way to define mean is average. I am above average; I am not mean.
I have some bright students who test well; work is not their concern. I’ve been reading several articles on the Internet about underachievers and how to motivate them. One of the best ideas I saw was to have them earn a reward one day at a time. This sounds great from a parenting perspective; my time and resources are limited. I still take it personally if they choose to barely scrape by. I struggle not to let them sit and twist in the wind. In the latter part of the spring semester, I find myself cutting my losses and letting them fail themselves. I have to let them fail themselves instead of trying to rush in and save them. I want them to be independent in their motivation yet still ask for help when it is required. I want them to grow up well. Does this mean I don’t care about them? No, I seethe with rage inside, use my firm voice outside, and have one-on-one talks when needed. My emotional involvement demonstrates my care and concern. If I truly didn’t care, I would really let them go. I never really let them go; the school year simply comes to an end. I find myself wondering how I could have done something better. Like my students, I am a lifelong learner. I am always increasing my knowledge and desiring to apply it masterfully. ¡Ciao!