Actually, not all of these stories are from my classroom but they made an impact on me today.
I held a simulation activity to represent all the trade concepts we have been study (trade agreements, trade bloc, embargoes, tariffs etc)...so anyway. The kids were put into groups of 3-4 and were assigned one of the following roles: trade ambassador, supply and demand co-ordinator, and engineer. I explained that they would be given a bag of "resources" in order to manufacture a product. They would have only 20 minutes to trade amongst the other groups and build their product.
Now, before i go one I should let you know that the "product" that they would be manufacturing was a marshmallow man! Fun, right? I was very strict about the fact that they could NOT eat any of the items until after we were done. 20 minutes passed, we did the trade simulation and everything was going fine. I announced that they could start on their manufacturing reports and if they wanted they could now eat the marshmallows- why anyone would want to eat these marshmallows after they had been traded around the classroom is beyond me? But they did. About 5 minutes after we had transitioned to this I heard my name and turned around. This is what I was confronted with...
Student- "Teacher, why were there extra cookies in the bags that we didn't need for the marshmallow man?"
Me- "What? There weren't any extra cookies in the bag."
Student- "Yes, there were. They looked like bones and paws."
Now.... before we continue, I should tell you that I wanted my students to recognize that some countries are wealthy in certain resources but unless someone wants to buy them they don't hold any value. So I put in non-valuable resources that weren't needed for the marshmallow man.
Me- "You ate those?"
Student- "Ya, they weren't very good though."
Me- "Umm, ya, they are dog biscuits. Didn't the bone shape tip you off?"
Student- "Oh, no."
Another student- "You ate dog biscuits? I want to try too!"
Ohhhhh great, here come the phone calls from the parents.
My second story comes from the gym today where I filled in for my teaching partner as he was away and couldn't coach his team during their basketball game after school.
I know nothing about basketball, other than it involves people running up and down the court and throwing a ball at a basket. So I was pretty much a warm body sitting on the bench providing supervision.
Now, my teaching partner is intense when he is coaching, sometimes intimidating, but from a bystanders point of view his players respect him and play their best for him. They did not play their best today.
There was no real reason for them to lose as badly as they did except that they gave up. They gave up on themselves, they gave up on each other, and they just plain gave up. It's a sad thing to see 13 year-old kids have the attitude that they can't, or worse, that they won't. One boy walked off the floor, without having a substitute and said, "I'm done. I don't want to play." Wow. About three of the boys were giving their all and trying so hard to get the other boys back into the game and I could see their frustration. The three boys on the bench wanted to be on the floor so bad, just to give it a try. Maybe if I knew more about basketball I could have helped with some specifics, but my only advice to them was to talk to each other, trust each other, slow down and communicate more. Which is, I believe, the most important aspect of any team sport regardless of the type.
It's heart-breaking, frustrating, aggravating, maddening to see such young buys give up on themselves and each other. Life is such a long and difficult road. What will they do when the hard stuff actually comes along?
Now I just have to tell my teaching partner tomorrow....sigh.