Students in control of learning – I’m in control of the classroom!

April 6, 2007 at 7:40 pm | Posted in education, elementary, hope, personal, schools, teachers, third grade | 1 Comment

I hear complaints like these from teachers all the time at my school:

  • These kids don’t want to learn!
  • These kids just aren’t motivated to learn!
  • These kids just can’t learn!

They’re also the ones who complain that the mandated curriculum is uninteresting, so the kids are bored and restless.   They’re also the ones who complain that the home environment is impossible to work with and the kids’ parents are at fault for the students’ failures at school. The teachers who make complaints like these are also the ones who are offended when you imply that it’s the teacher’s job to motivate students.

Watch these teachers with their students and you get the feeling that the students run the class. You’re probably correct too.

Teachers who deny responsibility for students’ motivation to learn abdicate control of the classroom and it shows.

I work very hard with my students on many level, all to assure their academic success in my classroom. Many of my fellow teachers at my school feel that I work far too hard and needlessly because these kids are hopeless cases. Then, these same teachers deny my hard work when I’ve met with successes, claiming that I had an “easy” class.  Makes my eyes twitch, I swear! I’m sure many of you have met teachers (and people!) like these.

To assure my students’ success, I first build relationships with them.  Inner city kids have much to deal with.  They do need a reason to come to school everyday and if that reason is to spend time with someone they enjoy spending time with, then so be it! I plan my lessons to tap into my students’ strengths and interests. Even if the curriculum is boring, I try to find ways to make it interesting. I tell them the purpose of the lessons, the steps along the way, and the final results. Students who know why they have to do something is more willing than the student who sits there and wonder why they have to learn this boring lesson.

These are the basics of teaching in the inner city. There are more strategies of course. And really, these are simply the basis of “good teaching”.

The result of all this hard work is that my classroom runs smoother. I don’t have to deal with student behavior problems all the time. And of course, my students learn.

Contrast that with a classroom full of unruly kids and an exhausted teacher who is always yelling. Why would anyone choose to teach in THAT classroom? I accept responsibility for every aspect of my classroom and students’ learning, and in so doing, I gain control of my classroom.

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