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Believing Bare Minimum is just fine.
Old 12-07-2020, 07:09 PM
 
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My 7th grade math class (that is those who are in school physically) LITERALLY argued with me today that there should be nothing wrong with doing the bare minimum. This is from a class who has CONSISTENTLY turned in late work since last year (I looped up with them) and never do more than is required on IXL practice, projects, etc. A few of them told me that teachers should consider their "mental health" and that they have lots of other things to do after school.
Now, mind you, these are kids who live in RESORTS. Their parents drive luxury cars, they live in gated communities, all have the latest iPhones, Air Pods, gaming systems, etc. Several of the other teachers who teach them experience the same thing and we are all frustrated to the point of insanity with them.

I will say this - I do NOT give them homework per se. They start classwork in school (usually no more than 12 - 13 problems) and anything left over is homework. And yes, I have not had a single day this school year where 100% have completed it on time.

I don't think I've had a more frustrating class period/discussion as I did today. I found myself getting really heated and I had to shut down the conversation because I was afraid I was really going to blow up. They were all laughing about it and thinking the whole thing was hilarious.

I should also note that this is a parochial school where these families are paying tuition. I wonder how their parents would feel knowing that they literally told their math teacher that they just don't think the bare minimum is just fine.


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Old 12-07-2020, 07:39 PM
 
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It might be worth thinking about (and later maybe discussing with them) how people decide when to do the bare minimum and when to do more.

I share your frustration with students who just coast along.

But when I really think about it, there are times when I do exactly that. My lunch today was cheese and crackers. I didn't have the energy to make myself a ham and cheese sandwich which would have tasted a lot better. But it just wasn't worth it to me today.

It's hard for your students to decide to put more effort into math (or their other classes) because the payoff is likely to be years down the line. They are still at a stage where they're more focused on now--which is exactly what they told you. They need help in understanding how and why their effort benefits them.
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Old 12-08-2020, 03:26 AM
 
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What does you administrator think you should do? Are you allowed to downgrade assignments that are late so students whose assignments are on time get full credit, but students with late assignments get less credit?

I also wonder if it is time to contact certain parents to let them know about the conversation you had with these students...especially the parents of students who are often returning work late. Perhaps you could schedule a conference with the parents and several of the teachers could join in so it is not just you who is part of the conference.

I think several comments from several teachers on the report card about poor attitude would be beneficial.

My mom always said you can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink. I hope you can find a way to impress on these students that their attitudes and behaviors need to change.
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Bare minimum
Old 12-08-2020, 03:57 PM
 
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I wonder what they would think if you just stuck with making them copy off the board every lesson. When they ask why you don't do fun lessons with them, well...."planning great, interactive lessons wouldn't be good for my mental health. That takes forever and I need my me time, you know?"
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Old 12-08-2020, 09:00 PM
 
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Oh my gosh - I love the idea of doing a lesson that incorporates just the bare minimum! Seriously, make it the most boring, awful lesson you can ever imagine. And then have a nice little talk about bare minimum.


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Old 12-09-2020, 04:34 PM
 
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I agree that continual late work is a problem, but I am not quite understanding the "bare minimum" comment because you also say they are doing what is required. If you feel what you require is not sufficient for their learning, up the requirement. Make "bare minimum" less bare.

Not everyone is going to go above and beyond. Sometimes you tend to get groups of them at the same time or classes where an overwhelming number are over-achievers.

I agree with them that doing the expected or minimum work is not always a bad thing especially if they are not failing.
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Old 12-09-2020, 07:02 PM
 
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Quote:
I agree with them that doing the expected or minimum work is not always a bad thing especially if they are not failing.
The problem is that many of them ARE failing or making low C's/D's. Then they come to me at the end of the quarter asking for extra credit to "boost their grade"! They do the minimum (and many times not even that) and think that is enough to get by.

My son is a "bare minimum" student, (which drives me nuts) BUT he is taking all honors/AP classes and acing everything. These students in this class are NOT high-ability students so that work ethic isn't serving them too well.

The thing that bothered me was the attitude that they have and how they laughed about it in class. I have given these students re-tests, open-note quizzes, extra credit opportunities, etc., and I still see little to no effort.

I am with those who said that I should show them what it looks like when I do the bare minimum. It's sad - out of my four classes (2 6th and 2 7th) this is the only class that has such a poor attitude about academics. It seems like every few years, one of "those" classes comes along.....
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Old 12-18-2020, 05:33 AM
 
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I like the suggestion of demonstrating what the "bare minimum" looks like when they receive it.

But my disclaimer is you're "fighting" a battle with the odds stacked against you, largely because their value system and logic are fundamentally different than yours. They also have bonded and figured out how to manipulate the system.

This will sound strange at first, but I've stopped caring (on the surface) with students like this and made it very clear that if they want to do the bare minimum, it's fine with me. My future doesn't depend on them... "I hope that works out for you..." This obviously requires some finesse and it can be a long process.

Then, the minute one of them does even a tiny bit more than the minimum, I'm all over them, heaping praise and appropriate attention.

That you got heated and they were laughing means they win. It's a power struggle (this is not a criticism, I've been where you were) wherein they use the fact you care against you. Acting apathetic strips them of their power.

I think we sometimes underestimate the power of group dynamics until we encounter a class like this.

"Gee, that's an interesting t-shirt but what's the point? A plain one would serve the purpose."

"In math, the average means you are at the top of the bottom and the bottom of the top." (There's also the point that the entire class can't do exactly the bare minimum--some will do a little less, some will do a little more and all it takes is one good or poor performer to change the average.)

Just a few thoughts and ideas... the challenge is, in part, to get them to change their thinking. They're not likely to adopt yours. (One of the challenges we have in public education is that we haven't figured out how to create intrinsic motivation.)
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