Same Song, Second Verse

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!

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