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Pa. teacher strikes nerve with 'lazy whiners' blog

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Link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110216/ap_on_hi_te/us_teacher_suspended_blog

Having spent 10 years teaching 9th-12th grade students (14-19 years old) in Business and Career & Technical Education (Cooperative Education & Structured Learning Experience), I can agree with many of her points and statements. However, as a professional educator, I cannot agree with her medium of choice and standing behind the "freedom of speech" right. When I was teaching I did not have a Facebook page; I added one after being laid-off to stay in contact with former students, but do not post anything that may prevent me from getting another teaching job in the future. Younger teachers today don't have the common sense needed to prevent themselves from trouble like this, as technology has been a big part of their lives.

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He continued: "As far as motivated high school students, she's completely correct. High school kids don't want to do anything. ... It's a teacher's job, however, to give students the motivation to learn."

uh... no.

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Are you guys on crack? Of course it is the teacher's job to present the material in a way that makes it interesting and accessible to foster active, motivated learning!!

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In my experience the laziness of the students is in direct correlation to how required the class is. If she's teaching a remedial English class, then she's probably not dealing with the most motivated students. If she's teaching AP courses, less so.

In some cases...but honestly, if the class is super dry, boring, and not challenging in the least, kids will be bored and disinterested. If the teacher gives a $h!, that goes a long way. But think about who your favorite teachers were and why...and do the same with your least favorites. Any trends surface?

I know my favorites were very positive, inspirational and motivational while challenging me with the material. My least favorites were so freaking easy and boring it was a waste of time to be in class.

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While I agree that a teacher should try to make a class involved, at the end of the day, certain subjects just don't lend themselves to 'active, involved learning.'

Plus, she's teaching high school. At a certain age, the onus is on the student to be busting their own ass. The motivator is to go to the post-secondary institution of their choosing, or work in the career of their choosing.

She's 100% correct, at least from what I had seen in high school. I hope she is rehired by another school. At least she gives a damn. Her complaints are some of the reasons why instructors burn out, or just give up caring.

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In some cases...but honestly, if the class is super dry, boring, and not challenging in the least, kids will be bored and disinterested. If the teacher gives a $h!, that goes a long way. But think about who your favorite teachers were and why...and do the same with your least favorites. Any trends surface?

I know my favorites were very positive, inspirational and motivational while challenging me with the material. My least favorites were so freaking easy and boring it was a waste of time to be in class.

And this is the difference between the teacher motivating the student and the teacher interesting a student. If the student isn't motivated, no amount of "interesting" will help. Yet if the student is self motivated (a trait that seems appear during raising of the child), the subject can be less than interesting and the student can still succeed. If the student is motivated AND the teacher can make the subject matter interesting, well then that's the ideal situation.

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While I agree that a teacher should try to make a class involved, at the end of the day, certain subjects just don't lend themselves to 'active, involved learning.'

Like what?

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I think most here could agree that Geometry is probably a fairly dry subject. My 10th grade Geometry teacher was one of those who I'll never forget. He was a gruff, crotchety old man who was insanely hilarious. Probably in his late 60s and drove a brand new Camaro at the time. He actually jumped out of the classroom window once to prove a math problem to a girl who just wasn't getting it.

He had constant parental complaints about him for rudeness.

But you know what? To this day I still use some of his unconventional techniques to solve math problems in my head.

Know what else? Kids still failed his class because they just didn't care... no matter how outrageous he got.

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Like what?

I dunno. Rational inequalities, cyclic quadrilaterals. Grammar, and punctuation. Various facets of chemistry, like calculations of the mole, or electron sharing and covalent bonding. I've yet to see a teacher make any of that stuff 'engaging,' but they shouldn't have to.

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There's a HUGE difference between presenting material in a way that is interesting and motivates learning vs. lazy students. There are students who will not and outright refuse to learn. Having taught for many years, along with my personality and caring, I have an excellent rapport with students and parents. That said, I've come across students that no matter what I do, refuse to do a stick of work.

Should teachers be responsible to motivate students to do work outside of the classroom or should parents take a part? Or should this generation finally step up and start acting responsible for their actions? I can't believe how much education (the system and the students) have degraded since I was in school. Students have all the power. They're never at fault.

I don't assign mountains of homework. I make it clear to students and parents from the first day of school, I understand what it's like to be a student/teen. I get they have several other classes. That said, I rather they spend 15 minutes practicing my material every day than blowing it off if I gave them an hour of homework every night. Yet 15 minutes of homework seems to be too much for some students to do.

What's up with all of the false dichotomies? Of course there are students who resist learning all the way...but if every.single.student is like that, methinks the problem isn't just with the students.

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I dunno. Rational inequalities, cyclic quadrilaterals. Grammar, and punctuation. Various facets of chemistry, like calculations of the mole, or electron sharing and covalent bonding. I've yet to see a teacher make any of that stuff 'engaging,' but they shouldn't have to.

Funny, my favorite teacher was my high school Calculus teacher, followed by my 5th grade English/Grammar teacher. I wasn't much into chem, so I can't personally disagree on the covalent bonding, but several of my friends were very engaged with it. I wasn't because that particular teacher never seemed to be able to answer my "why" questions, instead just directing me to read the book, or do more problems.

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I use the communicative method frequently when I teach. I've taught grammar in interesting ways such as charades, dances, and setting up faux travel plans visiting cities they built (which practiced their vocab).

EDIT: I feel I need to piggyback on my own statement. You can make almost anything interesting if you try enough. However, school is school. Students need to understand they are not to be entertained 100% of the time and there is a need for a student to take some responsibility for their own actions and do work.

will never happen. The only thing students are responsible for these days is harvesting their farm on facebook.

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will never happen. The only thing students are responsible for these days is harvesting their farm on facebook.

Don't forget watching Family Guy, playing Gears of War, etc.

Surprisingly, there are still a few I see each year who do value education. Occassionally you'll even find a student who performs horribly but tries their butt off to master material. Most of the time this stems from the importance placed on education from the parents. But unfortunately, you're mostly correct... most children just don't care.

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What's up with all of the false dichotomies? Of course there are students who resist learning all the way...but if every.single.student is like that, methinks the problem isn't just with the students.

No, it also goes to the parents. I'm not saying every teacher is wonderful, but the majority of students resist learning. More than you think, resist completely. This can destroy a classroom environment and cause even students who were previously motivated to learn, to falter. I'm not saying what the teacher in question did was correct, but there are times where I am completely frustrated and feel similarly.

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Funny, my favorite teacher was my high school Calculus teacher, followed by my 5th grade English/Grammar teacher. I wasn't much into chem, so I can't personally disagree on the covalent bonding, but several of my friends were very engaged with it. I wasn't because that particular teacher never seemed to be able to answer my "why" questions, instead just directing me to read the book, or do more problems.

Those subjects I listed involved some of my more memorable teachers. But even then, electron sharing is just not that much fun; even the teacher will say it, but then say it's just one of those things that need to be done in order to advance to more interesting topics. So the onus is put back on the student to slog through it.

Teachers can only do so much. In my Bio class a couple semesters back, our teacher was always quizzing us one on one with questions pertaining to the material, and keeping the topic as interesting as possible. It was a very good monologue, but that didn't stop the same students from using their iPhones all class. And those same students later bitched and moaned to him that they did poorly in their exams. Despite not paying attention, and not being around for study groups, they felt that showing up was somehow worthy of not just a passing grade, but a B.

This topic is anecdotal anyways. I worked my butt off in school, but both my brothers decided not to care, despite being sent to a nice private school. I got the public treatment. They had excellent teachers, excellent extra-curricular activities, but totally neglected the whole 'work' aspect. They sucked, and came out with lousy averages, but they still believe that by just having gone to school, they're owed something. Realty's since kicked their ass.

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I do believe the current gen thumbs their nose at education, but part of the fault lies with the parents providing them every distraction and tons of bad examples in terms of not demonstrating the importance of it.

but give the kids credit, they already know that all the education in the world can turn out to be a bag of $h! in terms of actually helping you for your position in life in the future. After seeing their parents lose jobs despite trying to do the right thing and be continuously educated.....and after knowing that there are no jobs for them even if they go to school and live with parents til 25....they may still be working at Smart Tech or schlepping pancakes at iHop while others coast in their careers because of every other factor besides how educated and capable they are.

Our collective capacity for education is boundless. Our corporate, economic, political, and cultural system in the US can't begin to absorb, utilize, or reward hardly any of it.

I almost don't blame kids for thinking their time is better spent playing video games sometimes.......or watching movies on their 20 dollar Walmart DVD players made in the far away land in sweat shops with underage labor. How cheap will Blu Ray players be soon?

Edited by regfootball

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I do believe the current gen thumbs their nose at education, but part of the fault lies with the parents providing them every distraction and tons of bad examples in terms of not demonstrating the importance of it.

but give the kids credit, they already know that all the education in the world can turn out to be a bag of $h! in terms of actually helping you for your position in life in the future. After seeing their parents lose jobs despite trying to do the right thing and be continuously educated.....and after knowing that there are no jobs for them even if they go to school and live with parents til 25....they may still be working at Smart Tech or schlepping pancakes at iHop while others coast in their careers because of every other factor besides how educated and capable they are.

Our collective capacity for education is boundless. Our corporate, economic, political, and cultural system in the US can't begin to absorb, utilize, or reward hardly any of it.

I almost don't blame kids for thinking their time is better spent playing video games sometimes.......or watching movies on their 20 dollar Walmart DVD players made in the far away land in sweat shops with underage labor. How cheap will Blu Ray players be soon?

You have a point... as an adult student, I'm completely unmotivated to finish up my last class of Spanish knowing there's no job for me next year. I got the short end of the stick when the state chopped Italian, and now that I'm almost done learning Spanish, thousands of teachers will be laid off this year, in addition to the thousands from last year.

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You have a point... as an adult student, I'm completely unmotivated to finish up my last class of Spanish knowing there's no job for me next year. I got the short end of the stick when the state chopped Italian, and now that I'm almost done learning Spanish, thousands of teachers will be laid off this year, in addition to the thousands from last year.

Are you also living in New Jersey? The reason I ask is that's why I was laid-off last year, and job prospects for the upcoming school year ('11-'12) are not looking any better because of the impending budget address our governor, Chris Christie, will be delivering soon (articles in the county newspaper are already spelling doom & gloom for school budgets next year). Many districts, especially in the county that I live in (Burlington), are already stating the amount of projected loss in budget and the results - less teachers, staff, supplies, and extra-curricular programs for the students. I believe the budget address is scheduled for next Tuesday (2/22), but I'm hearing from previous colleagues that there is a lot of talk of impending retirements (which is a good thing for younger teachers). If you don't live in NJ, care to say what state?

Edited by GMTruckGuy74

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Are you also living in New Jersey? The reason I ask is that's why I was laid-off last year, and job prospects for the upcoming school year ('11-'12) are not looking any better because of the impending budget address our governor, Chris Christie, will be delivering soon (articles in the county newspaper are already spelling doom & gloom for school budgets next year). Many districts, especially in the county that I live in (Burlington), are already stating the amount of projected loss in budget and the results - less teachers, staff, supplies, and extra-curricular programs for the students. I believe the budget address is scheduled for next Tuesday (2/22), but I'm hearing from previous colleagues that there is a lot of talk of impending retirements (which is a good thing for younger teachers). If you don't live in NJ, care to say what state?

No, I live in NY where Cuomo is slashing like crazy. The state just got rid of Italian this year, and all language Proficiencies in 8th grade as well as the 8th grade Social Studies assessment. When I got laid off, I had no chalk, no pens, no paper, no books, and almost 30 in each of my classrooms--and I spent about $1,000 out-of-pocket to supply the room. What the hell is it going to be like next year?! Sachem, the largest district on Long Island, is potentially cutting up to 375 teachers this year, not including aides, ta's, custodians, clerical staff, and administration. So, with thousands out of work, does Cuomo really think he's going to save much money? Gonna have to pay for unemployment for all of them too, and that's going to cut on spending bigtime.

I spent this past year finishing my certification in Spanish, a language/culture I really don't want to teach but will for a job, and there's almost no hope of landing one for next year.

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No, I live in NY where Cuomo is slashing like crazy. The state just got rid of Italian this year, and all language Proficiencies in 8th grade as well as the 8th grade Social Studies assessment. When I got laid off, I had no chalk, no pens, no paper, no books, and almost 30 in each of my classrooms--and I spent about $1,000 out-of-pocket to supply the room. What the hell is it going to be like next year?! Sachem, the largest district on Long Island, is potentially cutting up to 375 teachers this year, not including aides, ta's, custodians, clerical staff, and administration. So, with thousands out of work, does Cuomo really think he's going to save much money? Gonna have to pay for unemployment for all of them too, and that's going to cut on spending bigtime.

I spent this past year finishing my certification in Spanish, a language/culture I really don't want to teach but will for a job, and there's almost no hope of landing one for next year.

I feel for you Paolino, I really do. I taught Business Education (Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Word 2003, Web Page Design, etc) and Career & Technical Education (Cooperative Education - Marketing, Business; Structured Learning Experience - Freshman Seminar/Career Exploration, Deborah Heart & Lung Center Junior Volunteer Program)) for ten years in NJ. This is a dying field (Business Education; CTE is finding new life right now), and in reality schools aren't adding these positions, just refilling retirees if budgets allow. Tell me, what person doesn't need to know business? There is a HUGE need for CPAs and accounting in general, yet a good majority of high school grads going to college for this never took an accounting class in high school. The State of NJ DOE feels that Personal Financial Literacy, which is really the hot topic right now, was important for all high school grads to have as a grad requirement - until the new governor decided he couldn't justify spending the money for this program - social studies, business, CTE teachers would have been the ones teaching it, saving jobs. But the governor feels it's not important for NJ's ypung people to have a course to teach them the basic fundamentals of saving money, obtaining & using credit wisely, how to use a checkbook * checking account, and how to make your money grow (a lot of Business & CTE teachers already incorporate this into their lessons, but not on the level a dedicated course would have provided much more important information). I'm glad to see the Physical Education classes are paying off, with the amount of non-obese students we have enrolled in our high schools today (these classes are a joke - walk around the gym for 20 laps while listening to pop music, play racket-wiffle ball inside the gym, etc.). When I was in high school gym (graduated in '93), you actually had to play some sort of physical sport or you didn't pass gym. Today you can pass by just changing into your gym uniform and walking in a large circle!! Best of luck to you Paolino, I hope something positive happens for you.

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I feel for you Paolino, I really do. I taught Business Education (Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Word 2003, Web Page Design, etc) and Career & Technical Education (Cooperative Education - Marketing, Business; Structured Learning Experience - Freshman Seminar/Career Exploration, Deborah Heart & Lung Center Junior Volunteer Program)) for ten years in NJ. This is a dying field (Business Education; CTE is finding new life right now), and in reality schools aren't adding these positions, just refilling retirees if budgets allow. Tell me, what person doesn't need to know business? There is a HUGE need for CPAs and accounting in general, yet a good majority of high school grads going to college for this never took an accounting class in high school. The State of NJ DOE feels that Personal Financial Literacy, which is really the hot topic right now, was important for all high school grads to have as a grad requirement - until the new governor decided he couldn't justify spending the money for this program - social studies, business, CTE teachers would have been the ones teaching it, saving jobs. But the governor feels it's not important for NJ's ypung people to have a course to teach them the basic fundamentals of saving money, obtaining & using credit wisely, how to use a checkbook * checking account, and how to make your money grow (a lot of Business & CTE teachers already incorporate this into their lessons, but not on the level a dedicated course would have provided much more important information). I'm glad to see the Physical Education classes are paying off, with the amount of non-obese students we have enrolled in our high schools today (these classes are a joke - walk around the gym for 20 laps while listening to pop music, play racket-wiffle ball inside the gym, etc.). When I was in high school gym (graduated in '93), you actually had to play some sort of physical sport or you didn't pass gym. Today you can pass by just changing into your gym uniform and walking in a large circle!! Best of luck to you Paolino, I hope something positive happens for you.

Good luck to you as well. And I agree with you on physical education--it's gotten way too lax... I mean, my students tell me they have "gym homework", and my friend is a phys ed/health teacher and I've stood in her classes briefly... between changing in the locker room, warm ups, attendance, changing again in the locker room, they get what, 15 minutes of exercise at most?

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