Proposals – The Real World Bites

October 10, 2016 at 11:55 AM Leave a comment

The frustration of spending a week of writing in class, having the template and rubric uploaded, all the run-up activities and getting excuses like: I didn’t know it was due. The printer ran out of ink. I was busy at the weekend. And on. And on Anon. That should be a new 12 step program right there. Obvs. I’d be a founder member.

So breathe. Step back. Do not be snappy with 7th graders because this is not quite yet the real world. Here’s the real world – I nearly applied for a job at Amazon a couple of years ago. Seattle, yay, exciting environment, glamor of working for big name company. Was about to press ‘send’ on the application when I read the contract. “Can be terminated with no notice at any time, no reason need be given.” or words to that effect. An ‘at will employee’ compared to the contract teachers have. Btw, teachers do NOT have the job-for-life tenure of university professors, it’s a contract with a process for evaluation and dismissal. Time consuming but possible to dismiss teachers too. But still, way more protection than Amazon. Did not send. This is common with many jobs at start ups and in high tech. It’s the world our students are going into unless there is a sudden wake-up by legislation as to the unkindness and the cost of lack of loyalty of ‘at will’ employment.

Another common practice in the real world is the boss, on their way out the door smacks their head, “Oh my gosh, I forgot that grant is due on Friday! Felicia, could you get that?” And they’re gone. Not ideal but it happens. And then they drop their cell phone from the 27th floor cocktail party and are mysteriously out of touch with follow up questions until two days before a major grant is due. Even though Felicia has a long-arranged Yosemite trip with her whole family starting tomorrow.

I tell the story. Embellished a bit. Ask them if such a thing has ever happened to a parent. A few hands go up, sometimes a lot. They know it’s reality and yet. They have been treated with such understanding and flexibility “That’s okay honey, get it to me tomorrow…”, that we might have undermined their ability to survive the world of work. It’s a fine line I walk between expecting a lot from them, supporting them and putting real consequences in place for non-compliance.

Here’s what I did: Allowed today to be for peer-editing with the rubric in front of them. Circulating. Circulating. Trying not to lose my mind entirely when yet another student has not written into the template, or has not bothered to print it. Or has forgotten images, or… basically I’d say at least half were of unacceptable quality. Then they come in tomorrow. Printed. In the template. With pics and sources. Hopefully. Or they get to redo it.

I think the biggest issue is asking for help, I’m guessing for the following reasons:

  1. They don’t see that what they are doing and what is required is not matching up. (metacognitive skills). Training them to note that slightly confused, uncomfortable feeling.
  2. They don’t like to ask for help because it might involve having to do more work and/or they are worried they will get judgement and pressure. I’m trying really hard to be gentle about feedback while still communicating it needs to be done.

Wish me grace and patience, I hope this plays the hard-earned ‘wisdom’ forward to save you from ruining the enjoyment of a big project at the last hurdle.



Entry filed under: Assessment and grading, Class Management, Cool the School Project, Project Based Learning, Reflections. Tags: , , .

Cool School Survey The ReWilding Project for NSTA

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