Thursday, November 06, 2008

I don't know how much longer I can keep on keepin' on.

In English II, we've been going over the study guide for Julius Caesar. They've got two copies of the play to look through: an original and a modern-language version.

First of all, nobody wants to volunteer answers. Easy fix - just call on people, right? Only apparently the cool thing to do is to stare vacantly at the instructor. Sometimes I think I can hear the question echoing in their cranial cavities. I think perhaps they're waiting for the echoes to re-form the sounds into an answer.

The more adventurous ones will simply guess. "Brutus!" Then they watch my facial expression reeeeal careful-like.

Of course, that fell apart the moment I responded with, "What makes you say that?"


The first time this happened, I was confused. "I thought you said Brutus."

"Well, you didn't say that was right."

"No. I'm asking you to explain your answer."

Gasp! Shock! O, di immortales!

See, I didn't realize that the stares I was getting at this point were different from the stares I was getting before. These were stares of disbelief. How DARE the teacher not immediately acknowledge whether or not a guess answer is correct!

I did, however, notice when the stares became openly hostile. It was hard not to, considering that ADHD Gremlin piped up, "Don't you get PAID to TEACH?"

Now I was the one staring back at them.

"So. What I'm hearing is that you want me to tell you what answers to write down, and you'll look at those answers, and that's what should be on the test. Is that what you mean?"

They were so incensed that they didn't notice that my voice was just RINGING with The Tone. You know. The TONE - the one that says "There is a very obvious right answer to this question, and there are severe penalties for choosing the wrong answer."

Oh no. They all indignantly acknowledged that yes, they wanted me to acknowledge which guesses were correct and which needed to be re-guessed. And they were honestly furious with me for not playing by their rules.

I'm calling parents. Calling, calling, calling. And emailing. Beyond that? I'm not sure what else to do.

Image thanks to


Mrs. Chili said...


I'll tell you what - I have a VERY high tolerance for silence. I'll stare back until they're squirming in their seats. It doesn't take long for them to dump that tactic...

Yeah, my students don't know how to back up their answers, either. Sigh

Clix said...

And that's my point - they will be EXPECTED to do that in college. In this situation, I prompted them on looking for support. "Where did that happen? What part of the play?" "Do you remember who was talking about that?" so that they'll have an IDEA of where to look.

I know they haven't been expected to do this before, and I don't have any problem with confusion and stumbling around.

What ticks me off is that they just WON'T do it.

And mine have no shame. I've timed them. A full minute is not enough. I'm pretty sure we could fill the class period with silent staring, which I think might get me in trouble. ;)

Lightly Seasoned said...

Have them write it out first. Take out a piece of scrap paper. Find three reasons in Act 3 why Brutus doesn't want to kill Antony (everything is in threes in the book). Find three reasons Caesar chooses to go to the senate. Etc. Thnk pair share them, then ask the whole class.

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