Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What I'm Wrestling With

I get my students as 7th graders and keep them until they finish 8th grade.  It's actually a pretty sweet deal.  They come to me precocious little farts children and leave precocious big farts teenagers who can question things a bit better.  My biggest fight(s) comes when I ask them to show their "soft skills" (read: take notes, show work, etc).

I'm pretty sure you have the same problem.

I'm starting to wonder if the fight is worth it.  Will they pick up these "soft skills" as they need them, or do we have to teach them to do these things?

I say, "Show your work."
They say, "Then challenge me."

I say, "Don't forget to take notes."
They say, "Why? I'm not going to look at them again. I don't need to."

I say, "Pay attention."
They say, "Then quit talking so much."

I don't know.  Maybe I've had it wrong. 


CalcDave said...

I was that kid. I made it to grad school without ever needing to study. But then it was haaaaard. So, they may not get it until they need it, but as a high school teacher, I appreciate that they've at least heard what they're supposed to be doing before.

So, I wouldn't completely drop the lessons, but you might drop the fight a little?

David Cox said...

I was that kid too--minus the grad school. I didn't figure out how to really learn until college. I have to remind myself that I'm a seed planter.

Unknown said...

Some will get it right away while others will hear it again and again in high school. Keep trying though, if you can just get a couple to learn these skills you are doing some good.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, is having a contest where every teacher in your school can win a free gift! Check out the contest at

LSquared32 said...

On showing your work...
My oldest was one of those kids. He wouldn't show his work (he would do the work, and then _erase it(!)_ (aargh), until he met Ms. Nothing-Gets-By-Me in high school who gives 3 points for the work, and 2 for the answer on every problem. Now he writes beautiful answers to math problems (ahhh...)

I go back and forth on how useful note-taking is in a math class (as a student I went back and forth--do I learn more if I take (mediocre) notes, or if I give it my full attention at the time, and don't try to take notes. I'm still not sure what works best.