What are some frustrations?What are some of your frustrations with students today in your classrooms?  Just curious as to some of the issues that teachers/professors/instructors are dealing with...

What are some frustrations?

What are some of your frustrations with students today in your classrooms?  Just curious as to some of the issues that teachers/professors/instructors are dealing with on a consistent basis.

Expert Answers
linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes.... apathy, apathy, apathy!!  I cannot believe how many kids just do not CARE about how well they do in school.  I have spent the last three months baby-stepping my freshmen through the research process (and I DO mean I took it at a snail's pace with each step!) only to have them turn in papers that were obviously cranked out at 3AM!  I spent so much time practicing how to do parenthetical citations only to have papers turned in without them.  No works cited pages, quotations just plopped into the middle of a paragraph that have absolutely nothing to do with the topic, or citing from only two sources (instead of the required six) is making me feel as if I spent the last three months for nothing.  What really gets me is that the kids just say, "Yeah, well I'm just gonna go to summer school" because they know that they do not have to do a research project in summer school.  Kids with 23 averages during the school year magically get 90's when the summer school teacher does nothing but pop in a video and pass out popcorn for six weeks!  And the kids KNOW this, and opt for the easy grade. Plus, their transcripts will not read "English 9: 23; summer school 90"... it just shows the 90!!!!  Colleges are led to believe that these students actually did some work!  All they did was work the system!!  Students are not the only ones stressed!

I apologize for my venting.... but BOY am I bothered by this!!

I hate to tell you this, but if your students are seniors, next year they'll tell their freshman comp. instructor that they never learned how to write in high school. If they're in any other grade, they'll tell next year's teacher that "Ms. So and So" never taught them that. I had a student say that to a teacher right in front of me.

Have you seen any of the reality shows that are on these days? It's not bad enough that "Survivor" teaches us to plot and scheme. The latest one out there, "Bad Girls Club," teaches them it's ok to be amoral. Even my favorite, "Top Chef," is full of people who have potty mouths and have to be bleeped every other word.

Our society promotes mediocrity!!!!

kwoo1213 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You would think since I teach in a classical school that I would have less problems with apathy, and in some sense I do, but not nearly as much as you would expect.  I really try to motivate students with interesting projects to complete.  For example, I often have students use artwork or other media to address literature.  I got some awesome drawings of memorable scenes from the Inferno from some of my more artistic students.  I also frequently have students write scenes for movies from either literature or history (I teach both - the life of a private school teacher: six preps/day) or pitch a movie idea to the class of would be investors.  I also use contests to motivate students.  I have a Medieval Hall of Fame contest at least once/year where students have to become a medieval writer, historical figure, or artist and convince the class why he/she should be in the Medieval Hall of Fame.  The kids get into it and often even dress the part.  Then they vote for several winners writing the reasons they vote for those they choose.  The winners get lunch on me.  It is a constant process to make the learning fun enough so they enjoy it and to make the connections so that they can see some relevance to their lives.  It works with some students but not with others.  I keep plugging away.  I would be interested in other ideas.

Love your idea for the Medieval Hall of Fame contest!  That is great!

Some of the professors at my college have their students act out scenes from Shakespearean plays (they must dress up and they can bring their own props for their scenes) and they must also make a large poster about their play.  The winner gets free lunch. 

pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
What are some frustrations?

What are some of your frustrations with students today in your classrooms?  Just curious as to some of the issues that teachers/professors/instructors are dealing with on a consistent basis.

Right now, I am teaching Macbeth to the Junior class and they are impatient to get through it quickly.  In my experience, Shakespeare is to be savored, not rushed through in a hurry.  I love Shakespeare, I most enjoy peeling away the layers to discover all the interpretation that lies beneath the story, the plot and the characters. 

I really enjoy interpreting literature and my class, especially now as the weather in NY gets warmer, has no patience for exploring the depths and delights of literature, especially Shakespeare.

There are times, when I feel like a Victorian in a class full of barbarians.  My students are good kids, but when I get into Shakespeare, they look at me like I just stepped out of the 18th century.  They think I am too proper, I always remind them to follow the rules and why they are important.  I have children of my own, 20 and 22, but it never ceases to amaze me how little 16 and 17 year olds understand about life, rules and consequences.  Shakespeare teaches us a valuable lesson, about life, rules and consequences.  So, I hope that with the 28 days of instruction that we have left, I can impart some value to them that will give light to their intellectual darkness.  Every day, I try!!!!  And I teach Sophomores too! But that, my fellow teachers is another story.  

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes.... apathy, apathy, apathy!!  I cannot believe how many kids just do not CARE about how well they do in school.  I have spent the last three months baby-stepping my freshmen through the research process (and I DO mean I took it at a snail's pace with each step!) only to have them turn in papers that were obviously cranked out at 3AM!  I spent so much time practicing how to do parenthetical citations only to have papers turned in without them.  No works cited pages, quotations just plopped into the middle of a paragraph that have absolutely nothing to do with the topic, or citing from only two sources (instead of the required six) is making me feel as if I spent the last three months for nothing.  What really gets me is that the kids just say, "Yeah, well I'm just gonna go to summer school" because they know that they do not have to do a research project in summer school.  Kids with 23 averages during the school year magically get 90's when the summer school teacher does nothing but pop in a video and pass out popcorn for six weeks!  And the kids KNOW this, and opt for the easy grade. Plus, their transcripts will not read "English 9: 23; summer school 90"... it just shows the 90!!!!  Colleges are led to believe that these students actually did some work!  All they did was work the system!!  Students are not the only ones stressed!

I apologize for my venting.... but BOY am I bothered by this!!

Never apologize for venting. That's what this forum is for. We're all with you, sister.

sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to laugh at all the comments on apathy.  I waged a War on Apathy just two months ago in my senior English classes - complete with banner and all.  It helped some, and I did receive some positive feedback from the students.... on The Great Gatsby of all books!

I think though that we can't talk about apathy without commenting on enabling.  Students have been so enabled - so catered today - in the past 10/20 years that they have no reason to care.  Someone will get them through, someone always has... why should they put effort and interest into the classroom?  Until society begins demanding that students are responsible for their success - and not that teachers are the only culpable ones - it will continue.

I would love to hear more about your War on Apathy.  What did you do (besides the banner and posters)?  How did it engage the students?  I'm ready to engage in battle myself!

  Mostly I had to scare them!  I assigned detailed reading worksheets with specific questions that couldn't be found on any of the cheat sites and made them each worksheet worth a test grade... that raised the reading completion rate to at least 75%.  By getting that rate up, I was able to better facilitate discussions, which engaged students.  We also had some lively debates about the topics in the book - is happiness worth giving up riches?  should open marriages be allowed?  etc..  Finally, I translated some of the scenes into a script and had students act them out.

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Our society does promote mediocrity, but it's interesting that at the same time, it promotes the "must have" syndrome - must have the newest car, the newest cell phone, the newest computer - and yet kids aren't taught to work hard for those things - they should just be given to them.  This bizarre sense of entitlement that they all have is mind-blowing.  And Will Clarke on the eNotes book club addressed this about the language - everything to excess, even the use of the "F bomb," as he put it.  Think about shows like Bridezillas and My Sweet 16 - It's enough to make you puke!

Frustrations about school - I'd have to agree that with some kids, there is a sense that C is okay, when you know darn well they're smart enough to get A's.  And the procrastination - Nah, I can do just fine if I wait till the last minute.  And this is in a private school.  Now I'm not saying all the kids are "bad," or that I'm frustrated to the breaking point.  But it does get tiring, trying to encourage and encourage and encourage, only to find that they're still okay with mediocrity.

I'm the one who asked Will Clarke about the language in his book, and I have to say I was disappointed with his answer. I guess I was hoping he'd say he was trying to develop a certain sort of character, but what I got was more like that's the way things are and I have to learn to deal with it. Maybe I'm naive, but I believe people can be better than that.

Susan Woodward eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes.... apathy, apathy, apathy!!  I cannot believe how many kids just do not CARE about how well they do in school.  I have spent the last three months baby-stepping my freshmen through the research process (and I DO mean I took it at a snail's pace with each step!) only to have them turn in papers that were obviously cranked out at 3AM!  I spent so much time practicing how to do parenthetical citations only to have papers turned in without them.  No works cited pages, quotations just plopped into the middle of a paragraph that have absolutely nothing to do with the topic, or citing from only two sources (instead of the required six) is making me feel as if I spent the last three months for nothing.  What really gets me is that the kids just say, "Yeah, well I'm just gonna go to summer school" because they know that they do not have to do a research project in summer school.  Kids with 23 averages during the school year magically get 90's when the summer school teacher does nothing but pop in a video and pass out popcorn for six weeks!  And the kids KNOW this, and opt for the easy grade. Plus, their transcripts will not read "English 9: 23; summer school 90"... it just shows the 90!!!!  Colleges are led to believe that these students actually did some work!  All they did was work the system!!  Students are not the only ones stressed!

I apologize for my venting.... but BOY am I bothered by this!!

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the other English teachers at my school has decided to call it quits at the end of this year. She's old enough to have retired 10 years ago, but she loves teaching and is in great shape. She's been teaching freshmen for 20 years, and she's just had enough. The students won't listen. They whine and complain about not being able to understand what they're reading, and they constantly interrupt with irrelevant comments. She just doesn't want the aggravation any more.

During my planning period one day I stood outside her door and just listened. One of the students had complained that he couldn't understand the story because the words were too hard. (I didn't hear what they were studying.) She asked him how he could figure out what a word means by the context. I think I could hear crickets while she waited for an answer. So she gave an example vocabulary word and again asked how to find the meaning in the context. He told her he didn't know. She was holding some papers, and she just swatted his knee with them and said, "Oh you do too." Can you believe that he told her to stop throwing punches at him!?!

They simply don't want to think. It's easier to get the teacher so frustrated that she gives up, makes an easy assignment out of desperation, and copy off the one or two students who actually do it.

jilllessa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You would think since I teach in a classical school that I would have less problems with apathy, and in some sense I do, but not nearly as much as you would expect.  I really try to motivate students with interesting projects to complete.  For example, I often have students use artwork or other media to address literature.  I got some awesome drawings of memorable scenes from the Inferno from some of my more artistic students.  I also frequently have students write scenes for movies from either literature or history (I teach both - the life of a private school teacher: six preps/day) or pitch a movie idea to the class of would be investors.  I also use contests to motivate students.  I have a Medieval Hall of Fame contest at least once/year where students have to become a medieval writer, historical figure, or artist and convince the class why he/she should be in the Medieval Hall of Fame.  The kids get into it and often even dress the part.  Then they vote for several winners writing the reasons they vote for those they choose.  The winners get lunch on me.  It is a constant process to make the learning fun enough so they enjoy it and to make the connections so that they can see some relevance to their lives.  It works with some students but not with others.  I keep plugging away.  I would be interested in other ideas.

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One more frustration:

What's with seniors who decide to drop out in their last semester?

Yesterday I got between two boys who were exchanging words in the hallway. One was a freshman bully (this is his second confrontation in less than a week), and the other is a senior. I got the senior up against the lockers (I'm a big woman) and lambasted him. He was red in the face and ready to kill the freshman. I told him he was stupid to risk expulsion when graduation is only 6 weeks away. He said he didn't care because he's joining the Marines.

ARGH!!!!

How do you deal with this mentality????

Wow!  That is incredible that this senior would willingly throw away graduating simply because he is going into the Marines.  This is really sad.  Had he been kicked out, he would regret it years down the road, most likely, instead of regretting it soon after.  What bothers me about this mentality is that when I did something wrong while growing up (something I purposely did in spite of knowing the consequences), I would be consumed by guilt!  It seems that many younger people today don't have that fear of consequences or retribution, etc. 

You're right. People really have bought into the "live for this moment" nonsense.

kwoo1213 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One more frustration:

What's with seniors who decide to drop out in their last semester?

Yesterday I got between two boys who were exchanging words in the hallway. One was a freshman bully (this is his second confrontation in less than a week), and the other is a senior. I got the senior up against the lockers (I'm a big woman) and lambasted him. He was red in the face and ready to kill the freshman. I told him he was stupid to risk expulsion when graduation is only 6 weeks away. He said he didn't care because he's joining the Marines.

ARGH!!!!

How do you deal with this mentality????

Wow!  That is incredible that this senior would willingly throw away graduating simply because he is going into the Marines.  This is really sad.  Had he been kicked out, he would regret it years down the road, most likely, instead of regretting it soon after.  What bothers me about this mentality is that when I did something wrong while growing up (something I purposely did in spite of knowing the consequences), I would be consumed by guilt!  It seems that many younger people today don't have that fear of consequences or retribution, etc. 

malibrarian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Our society does promote mediocrity, but it's interesting that at the same time, it promotes the "must have" syndrome - must have the newest car, the newest cell phone, the newest computer - and yet kids aren't taught to work hard for those things - they should just be given to them.  This bizarre sense of entitlement that they all have is mind-blowing.  And Will Clarke on the eNotes book club addressed this about the language - everything to excess, even the use of the "F bomb," as he put it.  Think about shows like Bridezillas and My Sweet 16 - It's enough to make you puke!

Frustrations about school - I'd have to agree that with some kids, there is a sense that C is okay, when you know darn well they're smart enough to get A's.  And the procrastination - Nah, I can do just fine if I wait till the last minute.  And this is in a private school.  Now I'm not saying all the kids are "bad," or that I'm frustrated to the breaking point.  But it does get tiring, trying to encourage and encourage and encourage, only to find that they're still okay with mediocrity.

kwoo1213 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to laugh at all the comments on apathy.  I waged a War on Apathy just two months ago in my senior English classes - complete with banner and all.  It helped some, and I did receive some positive feedback from the students.... on The Great Gatsby of all books!

I think though that we can't talk about apathy without commenting on enabling.  Students have been so enabled - so catered today - in the past 10/20 years that they have no reason to care.  Someone will get them through, someone always has... why should they put effort and interest into the classroom?  Until society begins demanding that students are responsible for their success - and not that teachers are the only culpable ones - it will continue.

You are SO right in that students have been enabled beyond belief.  They've gotten used to being spoonfed and catered to and they simply don't want to do their own work.  They want someone to do it for them.  This has been a huge topic of discussion in my division as of late.

Susan Woodward eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to laugh at all the comments on apathy.  I waged a War on Apathy just two months ago in my senior English classes - complete with banner and all.  It helped some, and I did receive some positive feedback from the students.... on The Great Gatsby of all books!

I think though that we can't talk about apathy without commenting on enabling.  Students have been so enabled - so catered today - in the past 10/20 years that they have no reason to care.  Someone will get them through, someone always has... why should they put effort and interest into the classroom?  Until society begins demanding that students are responsible for their success - and not that teachers are the only culpable ones - it will continue.

I would love to hear more about your War on Apathy.  What did you do (besides the banner and posters)?  How did it engage the students?  I'm ready to engage in battle myself!

clane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with Kwoo, a lack of motivation! Students who are ok just getting by, what ever happened to students that were embarrassed by a D? I also deal with mountains of personal baggage that my students bring to class, on parole, pregnant, pregnant for a second or third time, abused, neglected, homeless. I also deal with parents who do not value education very much and certainly have no desire for their student to have an advanced education so the bare minimum is fine with them. I understand why they are largely unmotivated. It's tough to get a student to care about a poem when they don't have a home to live in. Students are so stressed out these days. I'm not making excuses for them, but students today live in a very different world than I remember and sometimes the pressure just causes them to fold rather than perform. Personally, I think it's sad, but I'm still using all my energy to make a difference wherever I can.

allyson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Just like everyone else, I have been trying to overcome student apathy as well. I tried to create a more engaging research assignment last year, hoping that more kids would get excited about it. Instead of literary topics, they were asked to research a career that they may be interested in after high school. They had to approach it from all sides: tasks, educational requirements, skills needed, best and worst aspects in their opinion. They thought it was great, until they realized it was still work! They needed book and internet sources, and they had to interview someone in the field. Also proper citation and bibliography were required. Although I think it was more engaging to many, for some it was as if I was asking them to defy gravity.

sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to laugh at all the comments on apathy.  I waged a War on Apathy just two months ago in my senior English classes - complete with banner and all.  It helped some, and I did receive some positive feedback from the students.... on The Great Gatsby of all books!

I think though that we can't talk about apathy without commenting on enabling.  Students have been so enabled - so catered today - in the past 10/20 years that they have no reason to care.  Someone will get them through, someone always has... why should they put effort and interest into the classroom?  Until society begins demanding that students are responsible for their success - and not that teachers are the only culpable ones - it will continue.

podunc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I also struggle with frustration due to student apathy. I teach Freshman Comp. at a state university and I will probably have 5 or 6 students fail this semester because they cannot be bothered to attend class or to complete assignments.

My students, unlike most high schoolers (I used to teach 11th grade English) DO have their own opinions about some issues, but they don't believe that discussion and reflection is a worthwhile task. They don't believe that learning how to communicate effectively will have any impact on their lives. The same students who don't write their papers for my class spend much of their day text-messaging their friends! I do feel like I am fighting an uphill battle for their attention.  

ajmchugh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with the apathy issue.  So many people who have idealistic views about education insist that good teachers can motivate just about anyone.  I'd love to agree with this statement (and I do think it can be true in so many cases), but sometimes, students simply don't care.  Much of the time, this kind of apathy is directly related to the lack of a parent/guardian who values education.  I have to admit--if I were a student whose parents didn't care at all about my grades or schooling, what motivation would I have to succeed?  As a teacher, I do my best every day to motivate my students to do their very best.  But I've also learned, over the years, that I'm just not able to motivate everyone.

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One more frustration:

What's with seniors who decide to drop out in their last semester?

Yesterday I got between two boys who were exchanging words in the hallway. One was a freshman bully (this is his second confrontation in less than a week), and the other is a senior. I got the senior up against the lockers (I'm a big woman) and lambasted him. He was red in the face and ready to kill the freshman. I told him he was stupid to risk expulsion when graduation is only 6 weeks away. He said he didn't care because he's joining the Marines.

ARGH!!!!

How do you deal with this mentality????

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I hate that students just want to be told what to do...no one thinks for him/herself anymore.  Their parents are going to vote for Obama, so are they.  Their friends say drugs are cool, so they do it, too.  They just follow the crowd, regardless.

I would like to have discussions where they aren't just spewing back at me what others have said to them...I want them to decide for themselves what is right for them WITH reasons behind it and critical thinking involved.  UGH.

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't know if I'm glad or if I'm depressed to find out that you all are having the same problems and getting the same tired excuses that I get. I think the truth is that the students just don't want to do anything--period. Maybe we need a totally new form of education: implant chips in each newborn's brain that will give them internet access to all the knowlegdge in the world. Don't you know there'd be some kids who would think that's too hard?!

kwoo1213 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the most frustrating issues that I deal with on a daily basis is apathy and complacency/lack of motivation and initiative.  I have always felt that I'm a good motivator; however, I have a difficult time coping with the fact that I cannot "reach" every single student.   I want to be able to motivate EVERY student, but of course that is not possible sometimes.  That doesn't keep me from trying, though!

renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My pet peeve is much like most who have posted. They want to be spoon-fed everything. I assign independent reading, and they come in and their only response is that they didn't "get" it. They want me to explain what is relevant, and why. It does drive me crazy. We have a generation of kids who do not read, and therefore they have limited vocabularies and no patience to read.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Agreeing with other editors, one of the most frustrating things for me is students who are only in it for the marks and are not interested in anything else - they only pay attention to what I say if they know they are going to be tested on it and only make notes in the same way. Whatever happened the joy of learning?!

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Inability to retain information is a huge problem. I find myself reteaching material constantly. It's almost as if kids today don't know how to memorize. In my French 2 class, I have to keep going over material that we covered in French 1. If we didn't study something yesterday, they won't remember it tomorrow. 

tokie | Student

Too many kids, by the time they've reached HS, have been thoroughly inclucated in this "spew-back" approach on the political end especially in American public schools.

They are expected to act like sheep, bleating after whatever is the en vogue social issue of the day--global warming, Darfur, hating Bush--and many have learned both from so many of their teachers and fellow students not to color outside some very narrowly defined lines. 

If you are a teacher who requires students to toe the line intellectually yourself in your own views on the world, don't complain. If not, maybe look into starting a semantics or debate club where real issues can be discussed openly and fairly in a safe environment?

Tokie 

 

tokie | Student

Clane:

I sub teach all over a single district, going from schools with 90% freelunch kids to schools with virtually no freelunch kids (socioeconmic factors) and I see the same apathy at all levels. As a sub, I am often left with directions to "show them a movie..."  Not good enough for me.  I also make them take notes, give them a few specific things to look for, tell them I need x-number of notes that I will be picking up...

This last is the tell: if I ask for 10 notes, that's where the majority of kids actually doing the assignment stop, whether they live in gov't housing and arrived on the public bus or a $900,000 house and were driven their by Mom, on her way to the club in her new Mercedes.  I'll ask them why they stopped and they'll say "you said 10, that's what I did."  I'll ask why they don't expand it, and themselves, and you'd think I asked them to extract a tooth for me, please. 

On the lower socioeconomic scale you have kids whose families generally (not always...I know some lower-income kids who bust their humps!) don't see any value in education.  On the upper side, you see kids whose families are going to buy their elfin' darlings way into the good life, and they know it, and so they offer at best, substandard attempts.

It does not bode well for our nation.

Tokie

 

 

trlocke | Student

Hello, I am not an English teacher myself, but I really like English. I just was reading your conversation and wanted to add that it is really hard as a student to learn and expand on your knowledge when class discussions go no where. I really like hearing everyone’s different perspectives and participating in a debate that helps everyone see every side of a character or theme in a material. I find it really frustrating when people are too lazy or to afraid to say what they are thinking so they just agree with everything you say. It bothers me a lot when people don’t put any effort into what they are working on. Lots of times people try and copy me, even opinion work! Then when I tell them No, they say stuff like, “Its okay! I will re arrange the words!” It just frustrates me so much! Especially since it is English! We speak this every day! I am not the best at English but at least I try hard! It ends up being that I get 110% on things because my teacher makes it worth less marks then she originally said so that kids are not failing. As far as I am concerned if you are not willing to do the work you should be willing to fail. Even though if affects the other people in your class when you don’t participate.

- TR