Posted by: Magistra | March 22, 2008


Last week I had another induction program seminar to go to (where once again, this program reminded us how much better it is than all the others – nothing says “superior” like dissing the other teams). Most of the video clips they show are of elementary classrooms. After such a clip when we are given some prompt to discuss, a moment arises where the high school teachers start complaining about how our students aren’t like that. They aren’t enthusiastic, they aren’t curious, they don’t listen. This time the focus was on hand-raising.

Now, I too complain about students. I have rough periods, I get frustrated when something I put a lot of time into is received with scorn or apathy, and I get tired of being on the receiving end of verbal abuse. My next door teacher, who has many of the same students I do, hears most of my venting (my mother also gets more than her share). I don’t think you will ever convince me venting does not have its place.

Granted, I don’t really know the people at these seminars (which is why they do not hear me vent). Maybe they’re using these seminars the same way I use my next door neighbor. But the cumulative effect of all these complaints makes me wonder, do they really not know why students don’t raise their hands?

There are times when I too would like my students to raise their hands. But I know why they don’t – my actions tell them not to. I don’t insist on it. I often react to what people shout out or mumble. I respond to comments called out. I even appreciate and praise unsolicited comments. I have absolutely no consistency about hand-raising. So, yeah, I wish my students would wait patiently sometimes, but I am under no illusion that they can’t do that or that they wouldn’t do that. I’m the one who can’t wait. And I know there are whole groups of students who aren’t effectively served by this, and working on establishing when it is okay to have an informal dialogue and when it’s better to have a formal exchange is on my personal list of “areas for growth.” But I cannot imagine the day I start complaining about a procedure to a group I know only through a professional association. It’s like they showed me their scarlet letters.

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