Thursday, May 08, 2008

Energy Crisis

The energy crisis has hit here at school. You can feel it just about anywhere you go on campus, but I'm not talking about the price of gas or power, I'm talking about that complete lack of energy on the part of the students and many of our staff - including me.

May has got to be one of the toughest months of the year. The end of the school year is so close you can almost touch it. (Our year ends on June 6th.) The terms "home stretch" and "spring fever" are heard more often in staff conversations and everyone seems to be complaining about the total lack of motivation in our students. Missed assignments, sloppy and careless work, and the oft repeated question, "Can I be done?" are a daily reality.

There must be something in the Spring air that interrupts the thinking process. This is exemplified by the number of raised hands in the room all waiting to ask the same thing - "I don't get it." Never mind that "I don't get it" is not a question, and that the directions you just gave not more than a minute ago are still hanging in the air. What's not to get?! It's hard to keep your head from exploding.

Yes, the demand for energy this May greatly outweighs the supply. This is the time of year when we need to tap into as many resources and creative ideas as we can to keep students' engaged, but how can we be expected to motivate students when we feel so unmotivated ourselves? From a technology coordinator's point of view, May is a tough time to get teachers to try new, creative projects. It's not that they don't want to learn, they just don't want to learn right now. Not when their focus is to "just make it through the next few weeks."

Funny that this little inspirational story should make its way to my inbox this morning. I wish I knew who to attribute it to, but its just one of those things that's been making it's way around through forwarded attachments.

In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and complained about the boulder and then simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been.

The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who had removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

It's easy to sit here and complain to the world through though this blog. Complaining takes much less energy, but it doesn't make the situation any better. It doesn't motivate our students - in fact I think makes the situation worse because it gives us a poor attitude that rubs off on the kids. If they perceive that we're not giving our best, why should they be any different? We (I) need to push, strain, and apply that extra effort to come up with creative and innovative ideas. I need to work on always answering students' questions with more questions to guide their thinking rather than just handing them an easy answer. Finally, I need to let them know in no uncertain terms that I'm not going to coast through to the end of the year, and that any coasting from them will not be accepted.

Okay, enough writing. Now back to work.

Note to the reader: Normally I use this blog space for tech tips and ideas, rather than personal journalling, but today I just felt the need to write and put my thoughts out there to help get my head back in the right place. Writing today's post has helped me refocus. Hopefully it will help others too.

2 comments:

James Gill said...

What a great post. I have had my share of obstacles lately, but now that I think of it, they were just putting me on a different path with my teaching. I think this kind of thinking and approach to our communities as teachers is what enables us to make the small, but lasting changes. Thanks for the energy to start my day.

Adele said...

Hey Dennis, We need your energy here today. Things are going well but I'm working and editing Movie Maker and would love to have some music in the background but don't have a clue where and how to get the tunes!
Adele