I am somewhat disillusioned today. I’ve stared taking classes without the mentor teacher present for the full period, which, while it isn’t really protocol, I am pretty appreciative of. Having someone watching and critiquing your every move can get rather tiresome as I’m sure you can imagine. After spending a rather fruitless lesson trying to squeeze some discussion fodder out of students and then trying with even less success to get them to do some work (and I don’t mean they were mucking around or having a screaming match, they just zombied out) I decided to prod them until they caved in and squealed.
After getting the general consensus that they never did anything on Monday’s “Textbook day” period (It’s an IT class with no computers) except listen to the teacher read from the textbook, I told them I had two of these Mondays left to teach and if there was anything they’d rather me do a lesson on than the lowball text material, I’d see what I could do. After the suggestions of watching music videos, playing X-box or having me bring the motorbike into the classroom and do burnouts, I went one step further and asked them if there was nothing they were interested in learning about this topic, why did they take it in the first place.
Several of them were ‘put’ in this class, as they had just started at this school at the beginning of the year, came back when they expected to leave school or left their choices too late and were stuffed in wherever there were empty seats. Some others chose to do the “Automotive” course strand, which saw them put in classes such as Industry Information Technology (the subject in question), Woodwork, Tech Drawing and Furniture Design. The school has no metalwork or workshop facilities, so basically there is nothing automotive in the “Automotive” strand. Others thought IT might be their thing since they liked computers or games, but are now pretty well off the idea. I have one student who said he wanted to learn everything and anything there is to know about computers. Aside from him, nobody else really wants to be there. For a Year 11 subject, that seems kind of weak.
Now my mentor teacher explained to me when I first arrived that this was a fairly lazy and unambitious class who, for the most part produced a poor standard of work, and that was on the occasions that actually did any. I can’t say that I’m real surprised. Most of them are failing and the regular teacher has just sent letters to all the parents explaining that the students haven’t handed in assignments and are unlikely to pass.
I was teaching this class for three weeks and realised they weren’t into the subject for some reason. Their normal teacher has had three terms. Of course, it would be hopelessly idealistic of me to expect that a teacher might try and cater their content to the students in the class, and maybe it wouldn’t work anyhow, but if for no other purpose but to satisfy my own curiosity, I intend to see.