I’d like to share a quick explanation why 82 minute, bell-to-bell instruction may not be such a good idea. I have a small, white remote. I am not good with small, white remotes, or keys for that matter. The start of this year was rocky. For one thing, for the first time ever, my students were being bombarded with tests, many of them academically above anything those students had ever seen before. They were unhappy. I was unhappy. They took out their unhappiness on me for some weeks, stashing that remote a couple of times among other incidents.
Fortunately, we made our peace. We’re a team now and have been for most of this year. I love those guys. They know I am trying to teach as fast as I reasonably can. I help as much as I am able and I provide retakes. For much of the year, I’ve driven an hour on Saturdays to make sure they received the tutoring they needed. They now realize the tests are not of my doing. So we’re fine.
They help me find my remote. They help me keep the classroom clean (mostly) and they volunteer for many tasks that make my day go smoother. But if they didn’t like me, my students could make my life nightmarish. I’ve seen it happen in more than one classroom. One year, a kind, soft-spoken, first-year teacher had gum put in her hair multiple times. Calculators were thrown out her windows. She never made it to a second year. I taught Spanish a couple of years ago and I was so glad to see the end of that year. One class, in particular, resented the pace created by the 304 page curriculum. I can’t blame them in the sense that we did almost no fun projects — we had no time with all those pages to cover — but that class was miserable and they made me miserable.
Eduhonesty: Kids push back. They don’t just march because we say march. They need to know why they are marching. They also benefit from having a rapport with their teacher. I know one can teach without that rapport but I don’t want to try. If we do nothing but push, push, push academics, we lose enormous amounts of time to passive resistance. In my experience, taking a few minutes to find out what everyone did over Memorial Day week-end results in a net time gain. The fact that I care that a kid visited her aunt makes that kid much more willing to work when we do buckle down.