Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Disappointing Start

My teacher friends and I diligently created a reading program that we knew our middle school students would love. We were going to show clips from a movie in conjunction with reading the book. Students would delve into the text, improve upon their reading comprehension, and stretch their minds as they engaged in shared inquiry. We had the movie. We had the books. We had the audio.

And we waited....

And waited...

And one student showed up. ONE.

I was absolutely crushed. Like every other teacher, I understood the importance of summer reading in order to prevent the summer slide. I knew that the 45 students selected for the program could possibly be reading at grade level (as measured by the Scholastic Reading Inventory) at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year since they were just slightly below grade level at the end of the 2013-2014 school year. I knew that they would greatly benefit from the expertise of us teachers who were running the program and would maybe-just maybe-fall in love with reading (and pick up a book on their own!)

However, when one student showed up, it took the wind right out of my sails. I run into this problem of wanting my students to succeed more than they want it for themselves every year. And I don't know how to solve this problem. I don't know how to build intrinsic motivation in my middle school students so that they value education. They are so smart and have all the potential in the world, but they have to have the desire to work. Me having the desire for them is just not enough.

My colleagues and I spent our time calling the homes of every child who was supposed to be in our summer reading program, and we had a better turnout today. Out of the 45 students who were invited, 8 showed up. So we vigorously worked with these 8 students, and it was GREAT! Do I wish more students would have come? Absolutely. Can I force students to give up 3 hours a week to work on their reading? No I can't. So I need to stop getting upset over what I can't control and work hard to help those who want the help.

But I can still hope...