Friday, September 20, 2013

Stop It, You Are Pushing Me!

I have heard it before, and I am sure I will hear it again- You are pushing me too hard in my learning. Really? Is there truly such a thing? These students are exceptionally bright and I love having them in class, but I don't want to crush them or make them cry. But let's look at some stereotypes and facts. First, everyone believes that Asian students are the brightest in our society. While Asian Americans make up only 4% of the U.S. population, Asian-American students make up a much higher percentage of student bodies in top universities around the country. The percentages are astounding: 24% at Stanford, 18% at Harvard, and 25% at both Columbia and Cornell. More Asian Americans over the age of 25 have bachelor's degrees and advanced degrees than any other race or ethnic group. And after outperforming their colleagues in school, Asian Americans also bring home higher incomes than their non-Asian counterparts - almost $10,000 more annually than the rest of the population (2002 statistics). What does this mean then? Well, it does not mean that they are intellectually brighter, but it has more to do with how expectations at home. I found some information from Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers - and How You Can Too was the result of these efforts-- 17 practices that are common throughout many Asian households. The most important thing is for parents to clearly define their child's role as a student. Just like society has different roles, so do students. We, parents and teachers, need to tell our students what their role is in our classroom with their learning. I will say a major difference between Asian and American households are American children are dividing their time between a thousand different extracurricular activities in addition to household chores, Asian students are concentrating more on their schoolwork. Lastly, I found in some reading from Dr. Soo Kim Abboud, that Asian parents also tell their children that learning is fun and rewarding, along with having high esteem for educators. This is not always the case in America. Maybe if some of our values changed so would the complaints about being pushed in one's learning. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Teaching and the Circus

Are students not pushed hard enough with their education? This question has been on my mind for a few years now as I continually hear from students about how hard my class is or how much work they receive. Am I actually being too hard or are our students becoming more lazy? With technology at everyone's finger tips and students of all ages used to being entertained by the masses, I feel that it is no wonder that when we are in a classroom students can be disengaged. I remember Saturday's at the library researching for a report I had due, yet now students can do this freely at any time with the Internet. Students are required to read three different texts in my class at the same time. Many complain about this, as it is difficult for them to remember what each text is about. I employ different reading strategies to help combat this issue, but students are not used to pushing their brains in this capacity. What do fellow readers or teachers do with this issue?

I also am wondering where reading is going in this technological age. The circus is not a big hit anymore with the masses, as there are no special effects or major animation techniques as seen daily on one's T.V. or Internet device. Remember in history when reading was the only activity one had to entertain themselves, and families would sit around a fire for hours either being read to or reading. Now, my students continually tell me how much they dislike reading (not all but many). Did technology take away the small pleasures in our life?

Lastly, I want my students to grow as learners and enjoy their learning, but I feel that a fine line occurs with this. If I push too hard, then I could loose the student and their learning. If I do not push hard enough, then I still have lost the student and their learning. Thus, the tight-wire of teaching, in addition to preforming so array of fireworks with our technology to keep the students engaged.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The First Weeks Done, Phew!

The first couple of weeks of school are now done. I have jumped, crouched, slithered and even tried to fly over these hurdles, actually being successful with some. Getting to know the students, well actually remembering their names is my first hurdle and I must say that I am doing fairly well with this. I am the worst with names! I can remember a face, but I blank, I mean totally blank when it comes to names 99% of the time. Repetition is the key for me, thus why when I have a student in my classroom I constantly say their name. The next hurdle is making sure that the classroom guidelines are set and I am able to set clear guidelines for the students to follow them. This is tough for some, which in return makes it tough for me. I hate being the rule-layer-downer, but it comes with the job. I tell the students that they do not have to actually like me (yes, this is a perk) but they have to respect me. My job is to teach, not be your best friend. Can those two really coincide? My third hurdle is time. Already I have less time than I plan for in class. I always plan for more than I need, but then I am disappointed when we cannot get to everything. How can I accomplish everything and still not feel rushed? Is this a problem for everyone in their classroom and if so, how do you overcome it?