Thursday, June 5, 2014

Why I Want to Give a Failing Grade to my Entire Class

Once in a blue moon, a group of students comes along, and it's as though the stars have aligned perfectly to create a mesh of personalities that somehow works in harmony.  In my nine years of teaching, this has happened three or four times, and it is a blessing that reminds me that this teaching thing is really worth it.

When I first started teaching, I wanted to create a passion for reading in students.  My desire was for them to become analytical thinkers, freely expressing their ideas through writing, and finding at least one genre of literature that peeked their interest.  Along the way I have come to realize that teaching is so much more than that.  I have a responsibility to teach life lessons as well.

One of my class's favorite times of the day is "Story Time with Ms. Jones."  It is during this time that I can almost guarantee I have their attention (except for the one boy who is always on his phone texting at this time and he thinks I don't see him, but I do.  I secretly hope he's mutli-tasking instead and is actually listening in while he types.)  Most kids honestly probably enjoy story time because in their minds it's taking up class time so they think they aren't having to learn.  They think "ah ha... we've successfully gotten Ms. Jones off track."  Well, the jokes on you because most of these stories are preplanned and I'm "off task" on purpose.  Sorry kiddos.

These stories are the real purpose I feel I have in the classroom. In my quest to get my students to be free thinkers, I want them to always try to look at multiple sides of an argument.   And when I say argument, I don't just mean being able to question the validity of another's statement or to merely say "did not/did to" or "you don't love me."  I mean I want students to stop going with the grain of society, to stand back, and really think about what they are trying to do or say.  When everyone else is joking on another student, I want my students to be able to analyze the situation, think for themselves if this type of behavior is okay, what are the possible consequences of their actions, and respond appropriately.  I want my students to be able to make valuable points that are logic based, solid and valid, and based off of facts, not other's opinions.  I want my students to be able to be creative and think outside of the box, to give answers that others haven't thought of before.  I want students who can look at a situation and ignore preconceived notions and have confidence in themselves to be smarter than anyone else.  I am asking a lot out of my students.

I want so much for my students, and I hope they want the same for themselves.  I see that they have so much potential if they will only take hold of it.  It's hard for me to let this group move onward because I look forward to seeing them every day.  Each and every one of them.  They are like my little family.  But they will move on to other teachers next year.  This group will never be together like this again after next week.  I hope they will remember some of the lessons I have taught them.  Not just the iambic pentameter and the difference between monologue and soliloquy.  (I even tried to teach one girl how to glue things properly.  This went quite badly for both parties.)  I hope they hold on tightly to the lessons of giving others a chance, looking at a situation from multiple perspectives, avoiding negativity, and just embracing who they are as human beings.  Each and every one of my students is beautiful in their own right.  I hope they leave my classroom knowing this.