Whoo boy. Been kind of a long day and I'm not sure how much I want to write (seeing as I've still got like two lesson plans to make for college and a friggin midterm tomorrow). I reckon I'll talk a little bit about two things, one stereotyping, and two, setting long term goals.
Someone mentioned in a comment on my last post that it was interesting to see how I stereotyped students and based my approaches to them on the stereotypes. It's funny, but it's also absolutely true. Kids are all relatively the same in that they are completely different in being the same, if that makes sense. Every kid at that age has one thing on the mind, fitting in. Everything they do is a variation of this single theme, so you've got to play to that. You have to give them love and acceptance (FUCK YEAH KID LOVIN) and help to foster a sense of self-worth in them. In order to do this, you gotta understand what the best way to reach a kid will be. Granted, sometimes the best way is to just fuck off and let em do their own thing. But for the most part, there are in fact certain tactics to getting a kid to open up. The smart loser who is integrating into the popular crowd knows what it's like to be alienated, so he's going to try to specifically not apply himself in school work. The popular girl that's popular for how wide her legs spread knows that she is in fact only used for sex, so if you approve of the things she can do in classes, she's going to seek that positive attention. Etc.
Now when I say I'm talking about long term goals, I mean the actual setting of the goals. Make explicitly clear to the kids what is happening. I did this today, and I started them off (besides beginning watching “The Crucible”) with a little writing assignment. Essentially, this is their final exam for my portion of the class. They will turn in four essays, 3 2-3 page essays and 1 4-5 page essay arguing a point about any of the literature we discuss. One will be based on Romanticism, one on Puritanism, one on Neo-Classicism (or Transcendentalism if they're feeling rowdy), and one on poetry of any type (the 4-5 pager). They will have two chances to turn in each paper for teacher review before their final submission. After two revisions, I will only accept the final copy. If they would like to schedule meetings with me though, I will be open for that. This gives them a deadline and allows them to achieve it before it is necessarily time to hit it hard. The earlier they turn the work in, the better I will grade it (providing of course they have actually turned in good work). Setting clear goals like this (and sending them home in hard copy) lets the kids and the parents know what they are doing right off the bat. I've asked them to write for me a one-page paper on what they know about Puritan logic is like as far as they know. This is due tomorrow, and I've explicitly stated that it will probably be one of the things they turn into a real paper. I guarantee most of them will suck, but only through suck... can they grow.