Oh, dear


This has really never happened to me before.

I always love the kids in front of me.  I do. I always feel protective and warm and motherly and loving.  I always want to bake them cookies and read them stories and give them hugs.

Except this year.

I am just. not. feeling. it.

This year my class is chock full of needy, fragile, immature, clingy children.  Some have had terrible experiences in their home countries, and those children I can understand and appreciate.

Others have just never ever ever ever heard the word “no” or been asked to tolerate a minute of discomfort.   They are ten years old, but they have never packed their own snack. They come into the classroom and announce, “My Mom forgot to put my homework in my bag.”  They are literally dumbfounded when I say that the homework is their responsibility.

For some reason, this year my classroom is filled with children who simply sit quietly in place for twenty minutes during a math lesson because they didn’t get the worksheet handed out to them, never raising a hand or asking for help, or (god help us) getting up to get what they need.

They are completely incapable of problem solving.

We were doing experiments today on surface tension.  Four small experiments involving plain water. In a classroom with a working sink.  I watched one group break down into total chaos, with people flicking wet paper towels at each other.  No one was even remotely attempting to use the droppers to add water to the cups, even though every single one of them had the written directions in hand. When I asked why they were not following the directions on the page, I was told, “We ran out of water.”

They were literally four feet from the sink.

What the hell.

I have no explanation for the bizarre needs of this class.  Can it be that I have the 25 children whose parents have completely failed to understand the need to foster independence?  Or is it possible that the emotional profile of this one class happens to be totally lacking in self-reliance?

I wonder if the issue is in part caused by our unbelievable reliance on those damn tests, and if the belief that there is only one way to proceed, only one right answer, only one correct approach is causing the problem.

I don’t know.

But I am absolutely one hundred percent NOT going to let this trend continue.

I am going to give them an assignment and then let it go.   They will have to miss read-aloud or recess to get caught up.  I will not jump in every time someone has an argument with a peer over a game. I won’t give out nice sharp pencils, or remind them to bring home their notebooks or put the homework in their bags. I will not foster their total dependence.

Its a big, tough, exciting world out there.  Those who succeed in that world are not the sweet quiet ones who sit passively and wait for help to arrive.

The survivors, the successful, the leaders, the ones in control are the ones who see a problem, figure out a solution and go after whatever it is that is needed.

I hope, I hope, I hope that I can push this class full of immature, dependent, pouting babies to stand up and be counted. I hope, I hope, I hope that I can somehow get them to figure things out for themselves.

And I hope, I pray, I cross my fingers and spit through the horns of the devil, that I will fall at least a little bit in love with them very soon.

Otherwise, it’s gonna be a wicked long year…….

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2 responses to this post.

  1. It sounds like you have a weird cohort there. I have had 2 of those classes in my career. Classes filled with a bizarre amount of kids who don’t know how to be independent. If you can teach them how to learn and do for themselves this year? Wow. Then you have accomplished more than any test can tell you.

    Reply

    • I find it so interesting to think about group dynamics: some of these children are very smart, sweet, mentally balanced and independent. But they get swallowed up in the general dysfunction of the group.
      I do have to remind myself that it is only October and they are only kids. I can’t compare them to last years’ kids who I remember with their June skills, and who were just a generally incredibly mature and sweet bunch.
      I need to give them time, I know I do……

      Reply

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