By Katie Choate
No matter what I do, I still find there are topics that I can’t make interesting for freshmen. Even if I’ve made attempts, many of them have it ingrained in them that school, English, writing, reading, etc. is “boring”. On some levels I can see their point. Let’s say I’ve managed to actually pique their interest on their current research paper. I’ve allowed them to choose their own topic and they are really into it. Now they’re ready to move on and take notes. For many kids, the very thought of notetaking, citing, outlining, drafting, and editing is the antithesis for interesting. This is where I lose a lot of them and understandably. I’m essentially ruining their “good time” that they’re having with that topic. One student actually asked me, “Why do I have to learn how to learn when I already know how to learn?” I get it…especially from a 15 year old’s perspective, but I’ve never apologized for my content. I am always trying to find a way to connect what we’re doing to the outside world. I try to find ways that it will be relevant for them. I don’t tell students we just need to “get through” something. However, I am guilty of luring a student through something by saying, “Once we finish this personal narrative, we’ll be starting Greek mythology.” I do this knowing it might perk them up.
“Making the content ‘accessible’” discusses how to introduce a topic. I like the idea of telling students that once they grasp something, they will know more than others. That means a lot to many of them. I think the majority of students do embrace challenges, but there is a percentage who never do. They want to be left alone. This is the percentage that leave me and other teachers baffled. And we tend to focus on those students more than the large percentage that are working and enjoying learning. That is something I personally want to work on: focusing on the focused students. I want to give more attention and concern to the students are enjoying the learning process and not fighting it. I think if students see that more of my attention is being given toward the positive, they might seek out that positive attention. I hope.