Tuesday, February 21, 2006

E-mail Etiquette

A friend of mine from graduate school sent me this article today addressing how e-mail lowers the boundaries between students and professors and to what extent the professors appreciate this growing intimacy. Here's a piece:

"(Feb. 21) - One student skipped class and then sent the professor an e-mail message asking for copies of her teaching notes. Another did not like her grade, and wrote a petulant message to the professor. Another explained that she was late for a Monday class because she was recovering from drinking too much at a wild weekend party."

Much of the Language Arts curriculum revolves around teaching students how to communicate effectively, and many students truly are clueless when it comes to communicating with adults via e-mail or the blog. For example, the article describes how one professor teaches her students that "the less powerful person always has to write back." This is one of those little rules that I've always abided by unconsciously but wouldn't think to verbalize to my students. In any case, the rest of the article is a good, engaging read, and it's at the following address: http://articles.news.aol.com/news/article.adp?id=20060221095709990001

Should we start addressing this more directly in the high school classroom?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Profanity on the Blog

It was brought to my attention today that one of my students is using profane language on another one of my student's personal blogs. This is incredibly frustrating to me for several reasons. First, I trust my students and try to treat them like adults. When they violate this trust by acting like twelve-year-olds who have just learned their first swear words, I feel like an idiot for having trusted them in the first place. Second, I don't have time to police their personal blogs, and it's a little frightening to think what they could be posting that it ultimately linked back to my name and my class, even if it's several degrees removed. I know that some of my students have links from their personal blogs to random websites that have nothing to do with Arapahoe. Yet whatever happens to be posted on those sites is linked back to my class blog as well. I'm going to need to revise my blog expectations to address directly how personal blogs should be used, and at the risk of coming across as a Nazi, I'm going to keep it strict. I respect my students' first amendment rights, but I also have a right as to how my name is used. In any case, I'll address this right away. I think that 99% of the time my students use the blog respectfully and academically, but that 1% of the time that it's not plagues me.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Exhausted but Happy

"Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things."

--The Shawshank Redemption

Monday, February 06, 2006

Sad Tonight

My honors students posted their own versions of Walt Whitman's "I Hear America Singing," and their verses depressed me terribly. So many of them see the classroom as a place that numbs them, bores them, agitates them, deadens them...I think of Anne asking,"Who killed your love of learning?" I remember feeling stressed in high school, but I also loved my teachers and classes. I know I was just a dorky girl in a plaid skirt and knee socks, but I actually enjoyed figuring out problems in my physics book. I felt like I was accomplishing something and that school had a personal purpose.

My students are beautiful people with endless potential, but it seems to be deteriorating. I'm fairly confident that these kids loved elementary school, loved curling up with their parents at night to read, maybe even loved middle school. And now they tread to class as though in a funeral march. They live for the weekends and days off, and manage to push themselves through the day, driven by grades and parents and other shallow motivations. I feel guilty but angry at the same time; they see themselves victims and consequently neglect to take responsibility for themselves. Somewhere along the way, consciously or not, they traded their hearts and minds for A's. What a waste.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A Metablogical Post

I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but blogger has definitely been drawing in more and more students...even ones who don't take classes that require blogging. When I introduced my class to the blog this semester, nearly all of them already had an account. Last semester most of my students had blank personal blogs, but this semester many of them have started posting their writing. Reading their philosophies and their fiction has impressed and humbled me...it's also helped me get to know them. I used to hold my students at quite a distance, but so much of what we've been implementing from technology team has allowed/forced me to remember that my students actually exist outside of school. They're almost like people that way.

Anyway, I do think that the better I know my students, the better teacher I'll be. My boyfriend, who also teaches high school English, often peaks over my shoulder as I'm reading my students' blog comments--he's fascinated by how comfortable with each other we've all become on the blog (he's also waiting somewhat impatiently for his turn to use the computer). I've discovered that my students are funny, talented, sweet, obnoxious, and opinionated, and that they can use their powers for good or evil. Mostly good, though.