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Teen's Take: Dear Teachers...

What not to do as a teacher--from a student's perspective

There is probably an extremely stately and formal association for you guys (I mean guys in a strictly gender neutral way.) I mean, there seems to be a group for everything these days.  There’s even a group for people who still think the world is flat, I kid you not: http://theflatearthsociety.org/cms/, see?  I’m being completely serious; there is an organization for everything.  So I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and officially put a name to an already existing group of people, the TWS, or teachers who stink.

Now how do you know if you fall into the TWS category?  Here’s a checklist of things that could potentially induce odor:

Everyone is failing your class- If more than 75% of your class just failed a test, or is currently failing the class itself, then it is safe to say that something is wrong with the way you taught. TWS have this mentality that teenagers are the root of all evil and everything that happens in the world is the fault of teenagers. The tragedy in Japan? Teenagers. Crisis in Libya? Teenagers. Justin Bieber cutting his hair? Teenagers. There are always going to be people who get bad grades, but (as much as the TWS refuse to acknowledge this) most teenagers actually strive to be successful in school.  When the kids who actually want do well still fail, even when studying, then that’s on you TWS.

You structure your class around standardized testing- Standardized testing is lame. Really lame. And it’s not just because your butt cramps from sitting in one place for so long. Not to mention the fact that if you need to go to the bathroom, it takes five minutes for an “escort” to walk you there. While the act of taking the mundane and tedious test is a pain in itself, the root of the inevitable lameness of standardized testing comes from the actual test itself.  The main problem with the SOLs (Standards of Learning) is that they boil down interesting and complex concepts into absolutely nothing at all. If TWS teach just so students can be successful on the SOLs (and in turn earn infinite amounts of school board cred) then the end result is a limited understanding about important topics. TWS need to realize that there is a difference between spitting out memorized factoids from flashcards and actually grasping and comprehending ideas.

It’s like a prison in your classroom (you know, because South County SS used to be a prison)- I hate to break it to you TWS, but constantly doing worksheets and taking PowerPoint notes isn’t going to make the information stick in our heads.  Yah sure, we might remember the material for the tests, but after that, those facts run out of our heads faster than The Flash (for those of you who don’t know who The Flash is, you just lost serious geek points).  Doing the same monotonous activities over and over again just causes a loss of interest and a higher chance that instead of thinking about Walt Whitman or balancing chemical equations, we are thinking about how “we we we so excited” because it’s “Friday, Friday, Friday gotta get down on Friday”(Tell me you haven’t heard this yet?). Fun and learning aren’t like oil and water, they can mix. Doing a fun activity or project is going to be a constant memory, unlike a bullet on a PowerPoint slide.  I still even remember when my class made Spartan shields in 5th grade.  Then we went outside and marched in a phalanx.  Let’s just say I learned more about Sparta in that one activity than I did this year in World History.      

So as a means of review, what have we learned here today, TWS?  1. Teenagers aren’t the cause for the world’s troubles.  2. SOLs oversimplify everything, making them even lamer than the current American Pie franchise (after they got rid of the original Stiffler, it just wasn’t the same).  3. Teenagers need something to pique their interests, or we will start singing Rebecca Black and asking ourselves “What if Legolas and I were the power couple of Middle Earth (sorry Aragorn and Arwen)? “  Well maybe the latter is just me, but seriously, TWS need to remember that we are not yet adults, and we need some fun and freedom before most of us become confined to a cubicle. If all teachers just avoided doing anything on the stink inducing checklist, then teachers would be synonymous with AWESOME, yes in all caps.         

Julie Borenstein April 04, 2011 at 01:01 PM
This article by Rachel Sandler is both entertaining and informative. It's refreshing to see a student's perspective, and many teachers would benefit from a better understanding of this perspective.

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