Academic Triage

Some of my students will learn English whether I’m a good teacher or not. They are the most fun to teach, and they ask the most interesting questions, but I spend most of our class time on the middle of the bell curve, the ones who are progressing and struggling and need a second explanation. I can’t take credit for my dream students’ progress, but I love hearing my middle students ask and answer “Where is your verb?” or “Who’s doing this action?” or any of the other things I repeat in class. That’s when I feel like I’m doing a good job.

There’s a third section of my academic triage. These are the ones who come in late, who forget their books, who don’t have a pencil, who aren’t sure which page we’re on, who whisper through the explanation, who didn’t know there was homework, who didn’t have time to read and so forth. Fortunately I have only a couple like this, but they are repeat offenders.

I don’t know what to do about the ones who lack basic study skills. I don’t want to just ignore them and but I don’t want to waste our class time and my energy on students who are actively fighting against learning English.

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0 Responses to Academic Triage

  1. Katie Rabbit says:

    I know I teach art, not a standard academic, but I struggle with the same problems you do with the perpetual slackers and/or folks who just don’t get it. No matter how many times I model/demonstrate tracing the body parts of a puppet for Women’s History Month onto a piece of paper (AND put a finished product on the front board for all to see), there is always someone who puts the arms upside down where the legs should go, etc etc etc. It’s the most annoying thing in the world.

    In the case of your class, these students PAY to learn don’t they? Remind them (in private) in no uncertain terms (and in a VERY stern voice) that they are wasting their money, your time, and their own time by coming to class unprepared…and if they aren’t going to take it seriously, then they shouldn’t bother to show up. It sounds like these couple of students who come unprepared are acting like elementary school students. Remind them to act like adults, get more stern about it, and perhaps they will take the class and you more seriously. ^__^

    As for the ones who are struggling a lot, pair them up with those who are at the head of the class and allow them to teach each other and keep one another on track during class time. It will relieve some stress off of your shoulders and force them to interact with other students – always a good idea. Group work is really important and can be very useful. Make up some grammar games and have them compete/play in groups. Could be fun! You’re never too young to play academic games in class or to do group work!

    – from one teacher to another, I hope that’s helpful.

  2. Meg says:

    It’s not that I don’t want to tell them to behave, or that I haven’t thought of it. I have no problem telling my students to be quiet or turn in their homeowrk or whatever.
    It just seems like a waste of time for 10-12 average to excellent students, who aren’t learning anything while I scold 2 students for not being prepared. Every day.

    I’m wondering if I should just teach to the average ones and let my unprepared crew show up when they feel like, with or without books, with or without any desire to pay attention, as long as they don’t disrupt the rest.

  3. Katie Rabbit says:

    I completely understand the dilemma. Tell them once during one class and then be done with them. If they don’t want to learn, then don’t bother wasting your time. Teach your other students who want to learn and ignore the rest unless they (by some miracle) decide to pay attention, just like you said…just as long as they don’t disrupt your class. Frankly, I’m amazed that those 2 or so even bother to show up. ::rolls eyes:: It’s college and in college the teachers are allowed to ignore the dopes who come unprepared. YAY for Professor Meg!

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