My students are working on a review for the TAKS test which begins tomorrow. TAKS is the state wide test and we all, students and teachers, hate it. As I watch them work and half heartedly discuss history, I think back to my high school days. I often watch my kids and sympathize with them. I remember H.S. and how important we all thought it was, and how class seemed so worthless. It is a struggle for me now as a teacher to make class informative and enjoyable for such a wide variety of kids. What did I learn in High School that I took on to college, or still hang onto today? Nothing taht I can think of off hand. I can't remember leaving Junior High or High School and getting into a college atmosphere and recalling some piece of wisdom that was handed to me by a teacher. So what did I take from my school days? I think about this often, because I know that these kids will take very little knowledge from their J.H. and H.S. classes.
I do my best to convince the kids that they are more important to me than the subject we are discussing at the time. The facts are important, but the facts have their place and that is not above my kids. But at the same time I want them to know about The Bastille, The Punic Wars, the Fall of Rome, Alexander the Great and a bunch of other cool stuff (cool to me). It is an awkward balance. To make a high school class enjoyable as possible and create a learning environment.
So I think often on how to create that place of learning and enjoyment. I think back to Jim Hendrix (8th gr. Social Studies, not rock star), Mr. Brown's Biology class, Mrs Turrentine's English, Coach Watkins, Mrs. Vauple's J.H. English, and the many more that cared more about me than the subject. They were great teachers I'm sure, but they were great people. As my kids leave class, they have no clue what the future holds for them. From my class I hope they take a little bit of knowledge, but more importantly I hope they know that I care about who they are more than what grade they made. There are times when this job is really great.
What about the kids that hate me? What is the percentage of kids that I will not impact at all? I just ticked off this 89 pound ball of wax and he can't wait to get out of my class. What am I telling or teaching him? If it is less then the other kids, then he is really getting nothing. If I could "web cam" these kids, the things you would see that I just can't explain.