For the past few weeks, I have been developing a culminating project for the students in my class to work on. We have spent a lot of time as a class editing each other's work, revising drafts of written work, and using class time to prepare for presentations.
Last week was supposed to be the first day of presentations. I prepared the students for presentations by giving each table a task during each presentation (one group to grade according to the rubric, one group to give warm/cold feedback, etc.). The first group got up to present and it was clear that they were not prepared. They wrote out rap lyrics that they said they would record themselves. However, when they began their presentation, they accompanied their dismally short contextual opener with a computer voice speaking the rap for them. Needless to say, it was monotonous and droll. The presenters were laughing as well as the students.
To put it simply, I was hurt. I had poured so much effort into these projects and my students were not taking it seriously. I cut off the presentation and told the presenters to sit down. I got up in front of my class and gave a very serious discussion regarding my disappointment. I told them to work on their projects for the rest of the period. The class was silent for at least seven or eight minutes.
Towards the end of the period, I gathered their attention once more. I told all of them about the wonderful time I have had with them so far this semester, and that I was truly sad it was ending. However, it hurts me, I explained, that they were not taking this project seriously. I shed a tear or two and explained that I want these final two weeks to be awesome. "We are almost there, let's finish on a high note!"
Their response was very positive, they appeared very concerned that I had taken this so seriously, and it is my hope that their presentations will be much better as a result. I was forced to reflect upon my investment in these students. A student teacher friend of mine explained that a teacher may be suffer from these experiences because they spend so much time trying to be successful. However, he continued, as you teach more and more, and get the hang of developing lesson plans, you learn not to be attached to every little thing. But, isn't that what teaching is all about? Showing your students that you are trying to help them as best as you can? It was an emotional day to say the least, but in the end, something I can learn and grow from.