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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Nurture, Nature or Demographics?

The first two classes after three weeks off (two weeks vacation, a third week to recover from vacation) were like night and day.

The 5th grade class preparation at the country club school included all neatly stacked materials in the order needed.

A single page lesson plan succinctly stated that all I had to do was monitor the class while trusted students handled everything from taking attendance, conducting the morning meeting and some of the actual lesson instruction. The class required only minor orchestration from me.

It was an amazing demonstration of twenty-eight well organized, motivated, self-sufficient students.

My next day’s assignment in a 4th grade classroom in the working class neighborhood school less than 5 miles away was the polar opposite experience. Herding cats might be harder, but not by much.

Classroom prep for the sub:
I needed a stapler. Found four empty staplers and one empty refill box. I borrowed some from the classroom next door.

Warm-up activity instruction: Scan the warm-up book under the doc reader until the kids stop saying “We done that one already!”

Get the laptop cart for the kids to use for their “city reports”. When the time came, I was told that: “Subs aren’t allowed access to the laptop carts”.

I called the school library and got permission to bring the class over to use the library computers.

Student conduct:
Three boys, two girls kept the party atmosphere going for the other twenty-eight kids in class.

Afterwards, I couldn’t help but wonder what differences would result if these two teachers swapped classrooms for the year.

Could the 5th grade country club teacher repeat the “miracle classroom” or would it devolve into much the same as it is now?

Could the obviously exhausted (I assume after 150 days with these guys) 4th grade teacher duplicate the same motivational skill with the same 5th grade population or would the class devolve into a six hour, party day?

Is it nurture, nature or demographics?


BunnyKissd said...

I'd be interested to see the results of the switch!

Sarah Lindahl said...

I have wondered this exact same thing and I think it is mostly the teacher. Sure, the kids have a lot to do with it, but I find when I walk into a classroom that is a mess, the kids are a mess, regardless of what the demographics are. I also find the opposite to be true.

Anonymous said...

It's the teacher. I have subbed in many very low income schools and some teachers have their students trained & on their best behavior. You might have thought the Queen had arrived, instead of the lowly sub!
Same thing with high income areas..those students can be just as disrespectful and bratty as any other.