Friday, 5 June 2009
I am going slowly, but inevitably, insane.
The monotonous drill bite of relentless stupidity, laziness and sheer teenage bloody mindedness that is my clientele, is forcing me jaw grindingly towards the abyss.
I hate my job.
I hate it so much that it lies like a death weight in my stomach and claws at my intestines when I try to breathe.
When will it end? What do you have to do to get a result? How much assistance can you give without doing the test for them?
I am so frustrated that the need to primally scream is almost life threatening. If I don't, I may spontaneously combust.
My problem is that I am a problem solver and this problem ain't getting solved.
My initial idea was to give them what they needed at their level so that they may experience success and be motivated to progress.
This was an abject failure. Teenagers do not like to have their weaknesses pointed out to them, even if it is not explicitly done. In simply providing a curriculum which is matched to ability, you emphasise the current inability. No one thanks you for this.
Next I tried to provide relevant tasks which gave opportunities for skills to be practised and consolidated in a meaningful context.
"This is baby stuff!" they moaned and continued to be unco-operative.
So I gave them work from the year level text and reinforced it with multiple practice papers.
"This is BORING." they protested.
So I turned it into a game.
"This is BABYISH."
In an ability streamed group they resented being dummies and became behaviour problems. Now in a mixed ability group they continue to write themselves off and don't complete tasks which could help them succeed. Even with work scaffolded to the nth degree, they are so sure they will fail that they do not even try. And I am exhausted by trying to make them.
In our tests this year, we have been including worked examples to jog their memories and to overcome the comprehension and literacy difficulties some kids experience. Has it helped? For some maybe, but overwhelmingly there is a large group who simply DO NOT ENGAGE with the example. Seriously, it may just as well have been written in invisible ink!
What are we achieving in this monumental struggle? It feels like we are trying to move Mt Lofty with a shoulder shove. I sense resistance. I do not think that all parties to this endeavour are on the same page. I suspect Mt Lofty is QUITE HAPPY WHERE IT IS!
So why, why, why am I knocking myself (and my dear supervisor who has been working hard with me to create differentiated tasks/worksheets) out in this classic example of a power struggle when it is unquestionably evident who is going to win???????
I want to go back to primary teaching and I want to teach reading again.
Is it vanity to want to do something you know you were good at? Perhaps.
If so, bring on the mirror.