At our teachers’ meeting this week, teachers were divided into four teams, one for each grade level (9-12). Our responsibility is to find ways to motivate our students to attend school, achieve at high academic levels and maintain good attitudes. We have to come up with some incentives, something like having a field day, pizza party, reward cards, dance or whatever we can think of to improve our school. Our average daily attendance is not so good. My knee-jerk reaction was that parents should make their children attend school and that when I went to school we were not awarded prizes. (Of course, other factors such as a student’s home situation affect classroom performance and should not be forgotten.)
Later that day, I reread phaedrus’ blogs for this week and began to think about whether students would actually become better learners if we could do away with at least a little of the bureaucracy. I agree with madscientist’s comments on curriculum, “There are some necessary basics of each field that need to be explored to set up students to achieve at later points in their education.” But, I also think that tension to perform at peak levels is not a good situation for teachers or students. Some of the students think that the only reason teachers want them to do well on state testing is so that they can get more money. In a way, that is true. The teachers don’t get the money, but the school district (where I live) loses money if students don’t perform well. To some students, that translates to the same thing as teachers getting the money. In this light, I accept the idea that we have to do something to make attending school fun for the kids or they will feel like there is nothing in it for them. But, what can actually change this cycle? How do we motivate learning for learning’s sake?
I believe on one of the phaedrus’ blogs there was a prompt to think about the stressors being applied to us to keep on task and learning. The thing is we are adults and nearly all of the teachers that I know are people who love learning. It’s sort of innate. I don’t think everyone has that drive, especially not many students at the age that I teach – high school. The key, I guess, is finding out what interests them and building lessons around that. In choosing articles from Old Daily and Remote Access, that is what we do.
Finally, and I have to get some sleep tonight, I want to thank Barbarantz for her wonderful blog on http://barbaranantz.wordpress.com/2007/09/06/venting-about-troubles/. I don’t think that I could have said it better for myself.