Are students CHOOSING to fail? - ProTeacher Community


Mallory in NY
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Mallory in NY
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Are students CHOOSING to fail?
Old 04-18-2008, 05:03 PM
 
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Are students CHOOSING to fail if they donít do work? I teach high school and I feel that students are old enough to know by now that if they donít do anything (classwork, homework, projects, participate) that they are CHOOSING to fail. We had a behavior specialist speak with us today and she says that they are not choosing to fail. They are not doing the work because they donít understand it. NOTE: sometimes I assign word searches, have them copy notes from the board, etcÖ.The student still does not do it. I donít want to be mean, but copying something from the board onto their paper is not brain surgery. She also says that she doesnít believe that students are LAZY. Oh, puleeeeeez.

I need some advice. What do you guys think about this? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.


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Homework Issues
Old 04-18-2008, 05:23 PM
 
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Our school thinks it's our high school teachers' responsibility to make sure they assign as well as complete the homework. If a student isn't doing their work, then the teachers must call and make a report with the parents. In addition, the school wants the teachers to wait to the very last minute of the semester to allow students to hand in their assignments and projects. I know when I was in high school I was the person responsible for getting the work complete and when things were due then things were due. Today schools are setting up our children for failure because they are giving the students the idea that life allows for retakes or make ups.
As an elementary teacher, I already see more and more younger kids coming into the classroom not wanting to do the work. I feel today's society (parents and technology) are giving the students the impression that everything should be fun, simple, and fast.
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Old 04-18-2008, 07:59 PM
 
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I believe it's possible for students to withhold effort for a variety of reasons. I don't think calling them "lazy" is helpful because it stops the diagnostic process from continuing.

My suspicion, at least in the situation you described, is that the student might not be able to read well enough to do what you are asking. Many students, even high school students, are not proficient readers and have been covering it up or "passing under the radar" until they reach a point where there are multisyllabic and content area words that they can't bluff their way around.

Or, the student has figured out that failure is pretty much inevitable in this situation so s/he is going to conserve the energy for something within his or her control.
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lazy HS students
Old 04-19-2008, 01:51 AM
 
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My husband and I share notes all of the time. He has been teaching HS for 11 years and has also taught MS. He has the students copy notes for his science class. And yes, he has many students who CHOOSE to fail as evidenced by the number of repeaters he has in his classes.

In elementary school, teachers have to bend over backwards to help kids who struggle because they are so young. We give them more responsibility to keep a notebook in MS, but some kids never quite got the knack (or even cared about it) of keeping a notebook. When I taught MS, I had kids who would stick papers galore into their textbook. That was their "filing" system. Lack of organization hurts many older kids who never learned this skill in elementary school. Not that I'm blaming the elementary teachers. Some kids are just plain disorganized and messy. We have all seen them in the elementary classrooms, and it doesn't seem to get any better for them as they get older.

My husband tells me that he can hand out worksheets and some kids won't even be able to locate them the next day. Part of it is laziness, and part of that problem comes from their attitudes towards work.

Yes, they probably don't understand it, because they weren't paying attention in class. They were probably texting their friends on their cell phone, dreaming about their prom dress and prom night, and the multitude of other things that distract teenagers. Their hormones are running amuck, which further handicaps them.

Your fault? I don't think so! Kids in HS need to become responsible, because they are about to enter the real world where the boss will fire you if you don't do it. HS teachers don't need to wipe the kids' noses. In my opinion, if kids don't do the work, they are choosing to fail. Maybe they'd like to get passing grades and move on, but they just aren't putting forth the effort to get passing grades.

By this time in their schooling, the major learning obstacles have been identified with students: the behaviorally challenged and the students with IEP's. It is important to stick with the IEP when dealing with students. Some of them need extended time and having a test read to them, even in HS. Some require a study guide.

Mallory, perhaps you could request a high school board. We don't have one, and it would encourage HS teachers to visit Proteacher.
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Old 04-19-2008, 03:32 AM
 
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What planet is this behavior specialist from? Not doing work because they don't understand it? That's a bunch of crap! Yes, some students are lazy and some come from homes that don't support education. It is our job to give them the instruction to be able to complete the work, but I seriously don't think it's our job to make them do it. I firmly believe if more parents acted like parents and expected their kids to do their homework and perform in school then we wouldn't be where we are today.

Allowing kids to turn in work "whenever" they feel like it throughout the grading period is not showing them that they need to be responsible and that there are consequences for their actions. I announce yesterday that I would have a list of work students owed me on Monday and they had until Thursday to get it turned in. I'm doing this because I was out for 3 weeks and had some awful subs during that time and felt I needed to allow them this just this one time. One of my "failing" students asked me if that meant they could turn in work from the whole year. I politely told him know that the grades that have been earned up to this point are set in stone. I think he saw it as his ticket to get promoted to the next grade. He wouldn't have done the work anyway!


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Yes they do!
Old 04-19-2008, 05:37 AM
 
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From my studies, and this topic is near and dear to my heart as I am planning to go into alternative education, plenty of students choose to fail. Here are some of the possible reasons.

1. "If I didn't try then I didn't fail." They know they perform badly and are tired of seeing it reflected in their grades, so an F doesn't reallly mean they failed because they know they didn't even try. So in essence they want that F because they know it is false.

2. They are showing how cool they are, like James Dean or something, they come to school to be with their peers even if it is perceived by us that they are not well-adjusted socially.

3. Kids in lower socioeconomic standing decide if they "like" the teacher, if they do then they will work. If they decide they don't like you, then they won't. In other words they are messed up in the head. You might want to read Ruby Paynes Framework For Poverty. It is hard to change the thinking that is so deeply ingrained in some individuals.

4. They see no concrete reason to do the task. I hate to say this, but some kids are PLANNING to be in jail. It is true. Especially if they have family members serving time.

5. Time management problems. Earlier grade teachers did not teach them how to keep a binder. Should happen in 4th and 5th grade. We are sooooo much what we were as an elementary student. The foundation is made in elementary school!

6. Learning disabilities that have not been properly diagnosed.

7. Kids self-medicating with drugs and alcohol and then coming to school. All you gotta do is go around assessing them. You will see a percentage are on something. Again, messed up in the head.

8. We are doing a poor job in America teaching how to be mentally healthy.

9. Lack of goal making and goal achieving.

10. Of course, parents who can't be involved.

11. "Lost Boys" I think this is the title of a current book, Augustus, a long working sub recommended it on the sub board, apparently there are a whole slew of boys who have no goals, who feel numb, lost. I think the book offers ways to identify them and help them.

12. Lack of guidance counseling, and I am not talking about planning for next semester's courses. I think that each homeroom teacher should take a focused look at each kid.

Just because kids in high school don't get attention it doesn't mean they don't need it. There is an excellent article I found in a high school classroom, I will write it out on a post to share with you guys. Otherwise you have to subscribe to the mag. to get it.

Hope some of this helps, I hear and feel your pain.
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Laziness/motivation
Old 04-19-2008, 05:39 AM
 
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I have a student this year that I KNOW is lazy. He will sit in class and refuse to do any classwork. If I tell him to get to work, he looks at me like I'm nuts. From those rare times this year when he has chosen to do his work, I know it's not lack of ability. He reads on grade level. He simply doesn't want to do it. He's even told me that his favorite thing to do it play video games and that's all he wants to do (btw, I really think that is becoming a very common attitude for a lot of our kids. If it's not fun, doesn't involve technology, and isn't geared for a short attention span, they don't like it). Yesterday I had finally had it. We aren't supposed to make kids miss recess if they don't get their work done, which I think is ridiculous, but that's another topic. I did it anyway. I had him take his classwork that he chose not to complete outside and sit and do it at recess. It was a beautiful day and he was not a happy camper. Guess what...that work was finished in less than 10 minutes AND done correctly. That tells me he is purely LAZY, and yes, some kids just are. I don't feel it is our job to make sure they get the work done. Will your boss come to you and make sure you get your work done out in the real world? Nope. Kids need to be taught to take responsibility for their own actions and choices.
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Don't blame elementary teachers
Old 04-19-2008, 06:53 AM
 
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Quote:
"5. Time management problems. Earlier grade teachers did not teach them how to keep a binder. Should happen in 4th and 5th grade. We are sooooo much what we were as an elementary student. The foundation is made in elementary school!"

I'm sorry, I don't know how to quote a post on here (can someone tell me?).

Anyway, I teach 5th (and have taught 4th) and I know that we hammer them all year with using an agenda to write assignments, organizing their binder with pocket dividers set up for specific uses, keeping folders to organize work, etc., so don't push the blame onto the elem. teachers for students who refuse to take responsibility for themselves and use the system that is set up. I still have kids who just shove everything in their desk, despite being told where to keep it. At 5th grade, I feel they should be able to follow a simple direction, such as "keep this handout in your reading folder." Yes, I teach them how to keep a binder and stay organized, but I surely can't go around to every student every day and babysit them while they do it.
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agree with chteacher
Old 04-19-2008, 08:24 AM
 
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Some kids don't care and they refuse to do the work no matter what you try to do to help them. They know that no work means a failing grade and many of them don't care. Also, by the time they get a bunch of zeros in the gradebook, they completely shut down because they're going to fail anyway.

A lot of kids read poorly and have never caught up. They're not academically inclined and sick of beating their head against the wall--never catching on and always feeling stupid. It's a lot easier to "choose to fail" than work and still receive the failing grade. Secondary schools are not set up to catch these kids up on their reading skills. They only get farther and farther behind if they don't catch onto the basics in elementary. (Not anyone's fault--just a fact.)

There's a lot of things students "should know" by the time they get to you, but don't. As a teacher, there comes a point where you learn to stop being frustrated with what they do and don't know and start figuring out how to deal with it--even if it means going over basics. That's part of the teaching learning curve. We all get there at some point in our careers. It takes a while.

Just as a tip, when I got shifted to teaching reading improvement, I implemented a new bulletin board I call Parking Lot. Every week I ask a question and give the kids an index card to write their answer--no names. I staple them up. I've learned a lot about my students that way. A lot of my preconceived notions about low performing students were wrong. Most of them do really want to learn. They're frustrated. In middle school we can still change their attitudes. I don't know how set in stone they are in high school.

I don't agree that you should accept late work till the last day of the grading period though. That's not fair to you. A reasonable cut off date is fine.

Last edited by Penny; 04-19-2008 at 09:14 AM..
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choosing to fail
Old 04-19-2008, 09:56 AM
 
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This is absolutely a choice (esp. by HS level) for many students. I agree that there are SOME who are academically overwhelmed or in classes where they don't have the skills they need to succeed. That does happen in some cases. However, in many cases, it's a lack of effort.
That's like the behavior specialist saying to me that the reason I don't exercise is because I don't know how. No, the reason I don't excercise when I'm supposed to is that I CHOOSE not to. I'm being lazy. Humans do that sometimes. That's not a big surprise. These kids haven't found their motivation.

I teach elementary, and there are some kids that we can't get motivated to do anything at our level, so I can only imagine what they're like by HS.
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for the record
Old 04-19-2008, 01:41 PM
 
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after writing, elementary teachers don't teach how to keep a binder I knew that was worded wrong, the system would not let me edit or even post again. Sorry, was not trying to ruffle any feathers. Of course some teachers DO teach how to keep a binder, manage time, etc. Sorry Sorry
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Old 04-20-2008, 06:56 AM
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We have to consider...
Old 04-20-2008, 06:58 AM
 
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...that some of it is the school itself.

We expect that ALL children have talents for academic achievement. My brother-in-law would have been one of the students you spoke about "choosing" to fail. He had a horrible time in school. As soon as he turned sixteen, he dropped out.

Now he is a very successful adult. He runs his own printing company. He learned to play the guitar and joined a band. He writes his own music and pays most of his bills with the money his band earns.

For whatever reason, our school structure misses the talents of kids like him. He didn't fit in at school. He never wanted to go to college. Copying notes off the board denied his own personality and talents to flourish.

We must make changes in our school to honor the talents and intelligence of all young people.
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Old 04-20-2008, 11:24 AM
 
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My son, a HS senior, has a buddy who is a National Merit Semifinalist. His GPA is below a 2. Son tells me the kid is brilliant but could not possibly care less about school or grades and chooses not to turn stuff in. Check that - he turns in enough to keep from getting thrown out of the high school that charges 8 grand a year to attend. And the parents are where?
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A wise colleague
Old 04-20-2008, 03:53 PM
 
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told me long ago that "students have the right to fail." At first I was shocked by the statement but over time I have come to fully agree. We can set up optimum conditions for learning in our classrooms and still have students CHOOSE to not engage in their own learning.

Some of these students have never learned that actions (or lack of) have consequences and now must unfortunately learn from the school of hard knocks.

Also, I don't agree that copying notes from the board stifles our learners unless it is used as an exclusive means of instruction. There is something to be learned in every situation.
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Old 04-20-2008, 07:39 PM
 
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I think by HS it is definately a choice! I loved ch teacher's list. All very, very good points!
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Old 04-20-2008, 10:37 PM
 
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There is a wide sense of entitlement to success in high schools I've worked in.
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