I just finished up some much-procrastinated grading. I’m happy to say that I knocked out a test, two labs, a worksheet, a short story, an online collaboration project (on Lino, a fantastic site), and LOTS of late work. All for three different classes. Whew. A beer and two cups of tea (and a bathroom break or two) later, and I’m finally looking in the direction of bed.
But, something’s bugging me.
I caught myself, as I was inputting the grades for the short story assignment, having some very dangerous thoughts. This assignment is worth a decent chunk–50 points, when most assignments are worth 30 or so–and it was due to TurnItIn.com on Monday. The kiddos had a week to do it, which included a weekend. But, 20 of my
frustrating lovely darlings didn’t turn it in. They didn’t even make an account. At this point, you’re probably thinking my dangerous thought was that I am going to shun them from my classroom (or something worse that I probably shouldn’t publish on a blog), but this is where it gets interesting. My thought as I was inputting the grades was:
“How can I input this so it won’t negatively impact the students that didn’t turn it in?”
Now, cut me some slack here. None of us want to see our kids fail, so I’m certain that was the main impetus for this thought. But, the more I think about it, the more I think this line of thought is simply dangerous for our public education system.
Our students are learning in a system that allows them to slack off…and get away with it! I am a hard-ass when it comes to grades. Don’t have it? Too bad. Want another day? Have two! You’ll get a late grade regardless. But, when even I am thinking along the ‘can I have any amount of mercy on them?’ lines, we know we have a problem.
It comes down to a very hard, simple truth. Students will never (EVER) learn good habits if we don’t teach them good habits. It may seem harsh, but we just cannot let students get away with these lazy, careless behaviors anymore. Responsibility is quickly becoming a lost art.
I like to think I am a product of our society, instead of being part of the problem. But, thinking back, I didn’t have any teachers that bent the rules to accept late work beyond the parameters set in the syllabus. I wasn’t cut any slack when I procrastinated (or worse). And this is where the lightbulb flicks on for me: I learned good work habits because my teachers taught me them!
So, I’m taking a personal stand. Starting here and now, I will stand up for what I believe is important and crucial for our future society. I will model to my students good habits and
force expect them to follow suit. The kiddos that need extra help? I’ll help them! But, I will not allow my students to follow this dangerous path our lazy, careless society is leading them down. I will set high standards for good work habits and help my students achieve them.
Who’s with me?