Boring teachers and their homework, no thanks!
We are in school for almost 7 hours, 6 hours and 46 minutes for everyone who wants exact numbers. Now, parents may average some 12-hour shift and tell you to suck it up, but why should you? As a teenager, last time I checked at least, I still wanted to be a kid not an adult – which means I don’t want to work after hours. I’m not here to debate that we ban homework. I’m here to say if you want me to do it, engage me.
Like those annoying ads you see or hear, you start to tune out. Little would you catch that Shane Company is not a diamond business but a jewelry one, earrings too ladies! But you eventually do because it’s played over so much, and for students with teachers who monologue a script each day, they can catch the message too late.
Having seven classes per day can easily mean seven different types of homework, each varying in size and importance. Personally, what I find is when I finally sit down after a long day and practice to finally do homework, I sort my homework by importance to me, not my grade. What I mean by this is simple: if I like you I’ll do your work so we can continue that friendly and enjoyable classroom environment.
For all my teachers who don’t stick to a script and joke around to the class and get carried away in the topic and classroom discussion, I’m working hard to do that extra problem or finish a worksheet. Lucky for me and my grades almost all of my teachers are like that, so I do the extra work that takes time. Just to prove I’m not crazy, here’s proof that I am not the only one:
“I like class when [the teachers] joke around,” sophomore Jared Wright said. “It creates a fun environment to learn in. Having too much work definitely makes me not want to do it. Whenever homework is piled on me I just want to blow it off rather than work on it, let alone work harder on it.”
As an athlete, when I have a lot of homework I have to prioritize it anyways. Sometimes the game and travel just run long or that hard practice requires a hot bath if you want to move the next day. To be successful in a sport, you have to practice, and for school it is preached that homework (aka practice) will help you succeed.
“For me to be more successful I’d appreciate it if they spread out the work in between classes,” Wright said. “Also if we could choose more classes that are unique to what we want to do rather than required ones that may not benefit me in my future.”
Just like any argument, you must recognize the other side. I asked Mr. Thad Atkins, the AP Human Geography and IB History HL2 teacher what his view was on this topic of being unique to help students learn.
“I think you have to have multiple ways to teach material,” Mr.Atkins said. “Not every kid likes lectures, not every kid likes notes, some kids like hands-on, some kids like videos. Every kid learns a different way, and it’s really our job as teachers to find out how kids learn best, and teach that way.”
Mr. Atkins has been teaching for 23 years, and his experience with us has just kept building. He says that he will create an outline of what he wants to do. The outline might be for one day or a group of days and as he gets through what he wants to get through he will add something else onto it. There is a structure to it, but he doesn’t write out lecture notes, and he doesn’t plan every detail.
“Some of the subjects are better for that,” Mr. Atkins said. “I don’t know if I’ve found it better with AP and IB as far as doing different projects and things because it’s ‘we gotta get through all this material because there is a major test at the end of the year, we have to keep pushing forward’. I feel like I have less time to do the stuff I used to do in the past, that some people might say is ‘fun’ stuff or project stuff, because of the pace we have to keep in the class. So for me sometimes that’s frustrating, but you still have to find a nice balance of how kids learn best and help them.”
A lot of times in classes, Mr. Atkins says that they will go off topic, it just depends on where the class wants to go with it. If there’s something his students are interested in, he tries to expand that. If they aren’t, then he’ll mention it and move on through. He said there’s structure, but a lot of flexibility within his teaching for students to ask questions or for the class to talk about other things.
“I think every teacher has to find their voice,” said Mr. Atkins. “What I’ve told student teachers before is some [people] are really good at drawing, some are really good at playing music, some are good with media and technology. I tell stories, stories are how I get kids interested in what we are talking about. If I can take a story, a real life experience, and combine that with what we’re talking about, and the kids understand the material that way, then I’ve done my job. So I’m a storyteller, and I like to tell stories.”
When Mr. Atkins was in high school, he said that he had a really great teacher for German, Herr Howard. Mr. Atkins said if he could teach the way Howard could and connect with kids the way he did then he would. He also said that he had teachers who were very strict and very hard, but if he liked them, they were entertaining, good at their job, and he could tell they cared then he would learn from them.
“I’ve had kids come back and say ‘your class was easy’ and I’ll say ‘why was it easy?’ They’ll say ‘well it wasn’t that it was easy, it was easy because you made it easy. You interested us in what we were talking about and you made it fun to learn. You told stories that went along with what we were learning that made it easier for us to understand the material.’ So I’ve always used that as a way to teach.”
Mr. Atkins tries to be engaging to have his students learn, but he is very humble. Even though students come to him and tell him how great his class was or how great he is, he said to me “there are better teachers than me.” As a respected coach also, in both football and softball, Mr. Atkins has plenty of time around us kids to know what to do.
“You can’t necessarily be a kids’ friend,”said Mr. Atkins, “but you can be a person that kids can come and talk to. You want your kids to like you, and the reason for it is that they’ll want to learn. If you’re a teacher and have no interrelations with the kids, then kids just don’t learn. They do not like you, they don’t want to be in [the classroom], they don’t want to meet you halfway, and that’s the problem I think with some teachers.”
When you think of teachers you automatically think that they are there to teach kids, but not to learn also. Sometimes things go on in the real world that means more than what they are talking about on the subject, and Mr. Atkins thinks that it’s important to kids to talk about it, and to listen to them.
“As my teachers used to say,” said Mr. Atkins, “we’re going to agree to disagree agreeably, so we’re going to argue about it. We are a society now that is basically cellphones and social media, we don’t talk to each other, we talk at each other. So in class if there is ever an opportunity, even if we get off topic to talk about something that kids want to know more about the idea is to create a want to learn. And I think through these discussions it helps maybe light a spark in a kid, they want to learn about something so they are willing to learn about it.”
Now, a lot has been said. You got my view, a student’s view, and a teacher’s. While I’m my sarcastic self, I do strongly believe that teachers who are more “interesting” and engage with the class are very important. When teachers take the time to work to build a rapport with their students, whether they incorporate stories or humor into their classes, they will get the most out of not just me but other students also.