One thing that teachers always struggle with is how to motivate students. I've been discussing this with a few colleagues, and we all agree the apathy we see from many of our students is discouraging. We try to give them a lot of extrinsic motivation, but while it works for many students, it is lost on others. And intrinsic motivation is a whole other challenge. After all, we'd rather not just have the students learn in order to get good grades--we want them to be as passionate about these subjects as we are!
Grades for term 1 close in a couple of weeks, and I have a bunch of students failing. I told them at the beginning of the year that failing my class is a choice: people who choose to do no work or almost none will fail. Last month, I even emailed a bunch of parents of students who hadn't turned in any homework. It's frustrating when I want them to succeed more than they want to. However, as my cooperating teacher from my student teaching days told me (and this has been said by others as well), sometimes kids just have to be allowed to fail. After all, they're in high school now, and while we of course need to push them and reach out to them, we can't coddle them. They have to make their own choices and then live with the consequences.
I'm really hoping that report cards will be a wake-up call for a lot of students. And I also want to keep finding different teaching methods that will engage students more, especially the reluctant learners. Hopefully I'll be able to tap into something that appeals to them a bit more, or perhaps feels more accessible, so that they (or at least some of them) will finally start completing their work. One of the best and worst aspects of this job is that it's always changing. This keeps it exciting and intellectually stimulating, but it's also quite tough to constantly be searching for, testing out, and reevaluating new teaching methods. But whenever I find something that works, it always makes me happy. As I continue to gain experience, my bag of tricks will get a little bigger. And I'm glad I have my colleagues to learn from and occasionally commiserate with.