Monthly Archives: August 2014

A Letter to Students

It’s back to school time!  Students once again fill the halls of the high school I teach at.  With that comes blog post after blog post about teaching, teaching methods, and letters to parents.  That’s all well and good.  I want people to know what teaching is all about.  I’m not saying teaching is the hardest job on the planet, but it is challenging and it is different from just about every other job out there.  But I don’t often see teachers post about their expectations for students.

So here it goes.

1) I will be there to help you, but I also have 100 other students that need my help.

I tell me students each and every day to not struggle in silence.  I teach chemistry.  Chemistry is hard.  I know this.  It was hard for me when I first took it in college.  But I’m here to help you.  I have tutoring hours every day before and after school.  I give you time in class to work through problems and ask me questions.  I’m here for you.  But I’m also here for all your classmates.  I’m also here for all the students in all my classes.  Please be patient with me.  When you shout out “Ms. D, I need help,” I hear you.  I’m just busy at the moment helping another student.  I’m not ignoring you and I’ll be there when I have a moment.  Just have some patience.

2) You have to put some effort into it.

I’m not going to do the work for you.  I will guide you through the work.  I will help you think about the work.  I will point you down the correct path.  But you have to do the work.  I know how to chemistry (yes, I just made that a verb).  I know how to form bonds, and turn moles in grams, and how to predict products.  I don’t need the extra practice.  So when I give you extra practice, you need to attempt it.  If you don’t understand it, see number 1.  But if you just don’t do it, there’s nothing I can do to help you.

3) You cannot multitask.

No seriously, your brain sucks at mutlitasking.  I know you think you can pay attention and text your BFF or your significant other, but you actually can’t.  Science says so.  So when I tell you to put your cell phone away, it’s because you aren’t actually paying attention to anything else that I’m saying.  And you need to pay attention to class in order to be successful in class.  Follow my example.  How often do you see my cell phone out while in class? (Hint: the answer is NEVER).

4) I understand you might never go into science.  I’m teaching you more than chemistry.

I know you don’t believe this, but I understand that you might never use chemistry again in your life after you leave my class.  That’s fine.  I’m not bent out of shape or anything.  Believe it or not, I’m actually trying to teach you more than just the chemistry concepts you need to pass my class.  I’m trying to teach you to take responsibility for you actions.  I’m trying to teach you to work through problems even if you don’t get them at first glance.  I’m trying to teach you to give it your best try.  I’m trying to teach you to be independent learners and thinkers.  Thinking problems through doesn’t go away when you leave high school.  It gets harder because there are very few people in your life who will guide you through a problem once you enter the dreaded “real world”.  So if I don’t give you the answer right away, it’s because I’m training you to think for yourself.

5) I don’t hate you.  Really.

Some of you do stupid things that get you in trouble.  It happens.  You’re teenagers and everybody did stupid things when they were 16, 17, 18 years-old.  Me too.  When I call you out for doing something stupid, it’s not because I don’t like you.  It’s because you did something stupid and I’m not going to allow that in my class.  Whether it’s something small such as talking while I’m teaching or something large such as not wearing goggles while we’re working with acids, I’m going to let you know that your behavior is not appropriate and I’m going to discipline you.  I’ll talk to you, give you warnings, move your seats, make you write apologizes and give you detentions.  None of that means I don’t like you.  Just keep that in mind when you do something stupid.

I hope every teacher and every student out there has a great year this year.  And just remember, students, we really are here to help you.  You just have to take advantage of that.

Election Time

Yep, It’s that time of year again.  The time when American’s come together and fling mud at people who don’t agree with them.  That time when politicians thrown promises around like dollars in a strip club.  That time when there is a cacophony of rhetoric and he said/she said blame splashed across the interwebs.  The republicans are ruining America.  The democrats are destroying our way of life.  Obama will kill us all.  Obama is the savior.

Blah, blah, blah.

I’m so sick of it all.  I’m sick of every politician blaming every other politician for the state of things.  I’m sick of name calling and finger pointing done by grown adults who are supposed to be leading this country.  I’m sick of the republican and democrats alike fighting over meaningless “party line” differences.

I did something different this year in regards to my voting habits: I researched the candidates.  *shock and disbelief*  Yes, I sat down in front of my computer with the votes guide book open and I looked up candidates for governor, US rep, state reps, corporate commissioner, state treasurer, and attorney general.  I read what they had to say on education, health, energy, the economy and I made up my own mind about who I wanted to vote for.  I didn’t vote for someone just because they were in a political party, but because they shared similar values to mine.

I urge everyone else to do the same.  Political parties and their “party line” agendas are destroying this country.  It does us no good as a nation to hold steadfast to ideals without any room for negotiation, exploration of new ideas, or compromise.  It just pits two sides against each other in a medieval style battle: each side facing each other across an open field, swords and shields raised, ready to beat the crap out of each other for the town down the road.  But who is harmed the most in that situation: the town down the road.  The American people are being hurt the most by our political parties staring each other down across the aisle.

Instead of voting for someone just because they belong to a political party, do a little research into that person.  It took me all of 45 minutes this morning to finish my primarily voting ballot.  Maybe for some, that’s too long.  But I think we owe it to ourselves to dig a little deeper and look into the people will be make decisions that ultimately shape our country and our lives.  When you think of it that way, maybe 45 minutes doesn’t sound like too long at all.

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