I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing as a teacher, but I am starting to realize one thing: teaching involves finding the magical balance between a number of conflicting strategies. One fine example of this is my everyday struggle between demanding that students do their work and just letting them suffer the consequences of their laziness.
My students have been in the computer lab all week long writing persuasive letters. They’ve got a pretty elaborate rubric from me, asking them to include all sorts of persuasive/research strategies we’ve spent the last two weeks going over: surveys, anecdotes, analogies, research, etc. So a week seemed like an ample amount of time to compose this letter.
Many students, however, used most of this quality computer lab time to goof off: playing games, “researching” guitar prices or shoes, Google Earth, etc. But how much of that goofing off is my responsibility? The slackers will suffer a lower grade for ignoring their project for so long, and that’s their own damn fault, to an extent, but is it not also my job to instill in these kids a better work ethic than that? To demand that they stay on task? Who shares most of the blame in a situation like this: the lazy kid or the teacher who’s unable to teach the kid the importance of not being lazy? It’s an issue I’ve struggled with for a while now, and I think I’m too often landing on the side of giving these kids’ sense of responsibility way too much credit.