Everyday I am exhausted by endless resistance. Every new idea, every different approach, and especially every time I tell them to go use what we've been studying. "I can't do it!" "I don't get it!" "I don't want to do this!" My students fight me almost everyday. Even the things that I thought they would embrace and enjoy they fight! Some examples...
Dentention: I asked a kid "What do you want me to do when you act up? You know what you are doing, so how can I help you stay on track? What should I do when you act out?" The kid had no idea and was really frustrated that I kept asking him. I know he has heard that question very little, but I thought he would have welcomed another approach.
Outside Data Collection: Our tree project is made for elementary and middle schools but is through Harvard Forest, part of Harvard University. So one kid decided that since it came from Harvard it was too hard and meant I was trying to make them do college work. This is what he told his mother, and his mother came to me confused. That one makes me laugh, but it is frustrating.
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel and an occasional time when I am not giving myself migraines.
The kid from the detention came to me the next day and had a suggestion for a good consequence and way to go about it. It took him time for it to sink in I guess. Slowly students are getting used to thinking about things on their own and developing critical thinking skills. I told them today that the process of learning is more important than the answer they get. I said education is about developing those skills of how to problem solve even more than learning the content. I think they started to get it.
Today I saw glimpses of my classroom becoming a learning community. Students were helping each other and enjoying the process more than they have in the past. I think things are beginning to click.
Sometimes I think I need to get used to the resistance and not wear myself out by fighting back. But I think the tension and pushing them to do new things may be necessary for them to make the jump in the end. So I guess I need to fight back and keep pushing them every day, but try not to get frustrated and feel overwhelmed by the lack of progress. Consistent work should lead to success; as I teach more I hope I will be able to trust our process of forming that learning community. I only hope that I am right in that it is possible with any class, any year. With tweaking.