being a teacher, boring, challenge, Student-centered

When Students Tell You They Are Bored Can We Blame the Students As Well?

I am in a conference trying to figure out why a child seems less engaged, less into it, and just not all that excited about school.  So far the conversation has been rather one-sided, meaning me speaking and being met with lsilence.  Finally I ask, “Are you bored?”  And the student looks up and says, “Yeah.”

I think that has happened to most teachers, a bored student, but what may not have happened to many is for that student to have the guts to tell you.  I know I was incredibly bored throughout many classes in my school days but I never did tell a teacher since I figured nothing good would come of it.  And I may have been right because my gut reaction the moment I was told was to get frustrated.  How can you be bored in my room? We do so many exciting things!  And yet, I bite my tongue, nod, and go home with a head full of questions.

I have a classroom full of noise, ideas, and engagement. It is something I work incredibly hard for and I am very very proud of and yet, it can also be boring.  There are times when the base needs to be built for our further exploration and I have to talk.  I try to make it engaging, I try to make is student-centered, and yet sometimes I can’t.  It gets better every year but still; but yes I can be boring.  So these thoughts follow me home and I ask my husband what I should he do since he acutely suffered from school boredom.

His thoughts stopped me; “Maybe it isn’t you?  Maybe you do everything you can and that child needs to step up too.  Maybe boredom is a two way street and you can only make it so exciting but if the student is not ready or wanting to be engaged then it doesn’t matter what you do.”  I immediately started to defend the child and lament that it must be me until I realized he may be on to something; perhaps we as educators can only do so much.  Perhaps we can only engage and excite until a certain point and then the student has to invest as well.  Perhaps we cannot change every student’s perception of school no matter how many things we pull out to do.  Perhaps, we are not the only ones with control in our classroom?

So I turn to you; what do we do when students are bored?  After we have changed the curriculum, the approach and the task?   What do we do when a student-centered learning environment is not enough?  Do we dare tell the student that they too have to invest?  That they have to make an effort to be interested or else school will be infinitely boring no matter what we do?  Do we dare put some of the responsibility for school engagement back on their shoulders?  Or is that taking the easy way out?

being a teacher, boring, inspiration, Lesson Planning, lessons learned

Today I was Boring

I love Mondays.  They are loud, a little bit crazy, and always exciting.  My students are tapping their feet, their are sharpening their pencils and asking a million questions about what we are doing this week and when are we going to get to do this really cool thing?  The noise can be kind of intimidating to cut through but then you realize that it is excitement, not just chatter, and it becomes a different beast to maneuver altogether.

Today, I was boring, though.  I had my lessons planned, even with discussion questions, extra surprises and movie clips.  And yet, I fell flat.  During social studies, where I was teaching the writing of the Constitution, I yawned.  And you know if the teacher is bored, then imagine what the students feel.  So I stopped.  I put the book down that I was reading aloud and then asked them what questions they had.  A little bit of perking up.  Then I asked them to write on the board everything they knew about the office of the president, some motion and activity.  Then I started to drone on again – moment lost.

I don’t know what it was today.  I had a long night with my daughter with croup, my mind is heavy with the scary legislation vote looming over us, and I didn’t take the time to think this morning.  I have a pretty set morning routine where I get in 1 hour and 15 min early, turn on my music, jam to that while I clean, pull out, discuss, give hugs to colleagues and just focus.  Today I had no music, ran around, got visited by students early, stopped by a great Valentines Day breakfast and just spoke a lot of politics  By the time the bell rang, I was ready physically not mentally.

And what a difference that makes!  All day I played catch up, tried to find my brain – it must be around somewhere – and just made it through.  That is not what teaching is supposed to be like; surviving.  So I wonder; what do others do when the lesson isn’t working?  Do you throw it out?  Stop and do something else entirely or just lumber through it?  I felt I robbed a great moment in history from my students today, something that I cannot get back.  So when your brain disappears and the day just seems to happen to you, what do you do to put it back on track?

I, for one, am going to bed early, charging my Ipod, getting my red shirt ready (all union workers are wearing red to show unity this week) and packing chocolate in my lunch tomorrow.  I will not let my students down like this again.