It is the end of May. Yet, daily, in every period there are three to five students who need a pencil. Or paper. Or both. Or just need to be reintroduced to their binder which has been languishing in their locker. Since January.
This daily inability/disinterest/motivation (I don't know which descriptor to use here, which is the crux of this post) to come to class prepared is less about there being fourteen days of school left than it is about personal responsibility. A reflection really of what this batch of kids expects from life and themselves. I am worried.
Having spent over a decade teaching in Title I schools, students' lack of basic supplies is the norm. So like most title schools we stand in the gap with a heavily discounted student store and many teachers keep extras in their rooms for those kids who really can't access supplies. So there is really no reason other than conscious choice for a student to come to class without basic supplies.
It is that conscious choosing not to bring the materials necessary to actively engage in learning that has me worried. It is not even the typical "I can learn this by osmosis" attitude. The repeat offenders are presenting as uninterested and unconcerned with learning. Now middle school students are not reknowned for great forward thinking or meta-cognition beyond "I think Justin Bieber is really cute/stupid" (though they do often have moments deep thinking and the hardest questions I have ever been asked have come from seventh graders). They do typically get if-then-because kind of logic. The kind that takes poor kids with difficult home lives to skills center, community college, and beyond. These kiddos aren't there. And I don't know that what I am observing can even be called apathy.
It's more a perfect storm of learned helplessness, lack of opportunity, and almost nonexistent value for obtaining knowledge...about anything. I don't believe any of them want to grow up to be stupid. But they certainly don't want to grow up to do anything requiring they come prepared, on time, or with a sense of curiosity. I fear our best intentions have created this storm. These kids KNOW if they hold out long enough we will give them the answer, and the pencil and paper too.
So I am wondering: which acronym in the Ed Reform alphabet soup is going to address accoutability?