It was a bad-teacher-day.
You would think I’d never uttered the words “thesis statement” to my middle schoolers. You would think they’d never heard the concept. For as much as I felt I was getting through to them, you would think I was speaking Lithuanian.
They are meant to be writing science research papers. Their science teacher is focusing on content, and I’m trying to help with wording and style. But many of them came to my class with seemingly no idea what their topic even was.
Call me crazy, but I don’t know how to help a student write a thesis statement if that student has no topic.
They were supposed to have their thesis statements done. I was going to help them work on their attention-getters, but when some of them asked what the hook should be and I asked, “What’s your thesis statement,” they’d said, “I don’t really know.” Sigh. So the first class was rockier than I had anticipated.
The second class wasn’t going much better and I was becoming increasingly frustrated — with the students because of their lack of preparation, and with myself for my apparent inability to clarify concepts. Then a student began to argue with me over a bit of minutiae, and I lost it. It’s been a long time since I got that angry at a student. I felt my face get hot and I knew it was red.
When the third class came in, I warned them that it had been a hard day already and asked that they be nice. But when one of those students just kept talking, I laid into him more harshly than probably I should have. He refused to talk to me after that, and when I apologized, he said he wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to forgive me. (Seriously, I hadn’t been quite that mean. But I certainly can’t make him get over it.)
I didn’t fare much better with the fourth group of students. I’d had a talk with the science teacher and lunch and had a better understanding of what she was looking for as far as content goes, but the students apparently did not. And I didn’t seem to make much headway in helping them.
We are all tired of winter and we are all ready for Spring Break. Still, I’m trying to push through and help students and challenge them. They aren’t really into it right now.
Sigh. Perhaps Monday will be better.