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Placement Vignette -- Quiet rebellions

kate.mulligan's picture

At my school, all the students are able to check out laptops for the school day, which they will use to work on schoolwork for the course of the day. In my classroom one day, students were supposed to be writing scripts for an assignment they were working on. Instead, they were goofing off on their computers, and one girl laid down on her desk, covered her head with her coat, and started talking on the phone.

 My teacher, Ms. Williams, seemed to tired to deal with it. Instead of focusing on individual students who were not working, she only focused on those that were, saying things like “thank you for getting this done, Jonathan!” in a loud voice so as to call attention to it.

Ms. Williams has repeatedly told me how she feels that all the teachers at this school are burnt out and just waiting for summer. She says she feels like everyone needs a break, but they never get one. This reminds me of how schools tend to put pressure on the teachers to do everything. The teachers at this school do not have enough time, energy, or resources to make effective change in the classroom. Students who are quietly rebelling are deemed not an immediate concern.


jccohen's picture


What I hear you describing is a situation in which teachers and students are feeling pressured and disengaged, "needing a break" (though didn't they just come back from their spring break?).  What kind of an assignment were the students writing scripts for?  I'm interested in what kind of work the teacher is assigning and how students are taking it up, that is, whether they're finding it engaging, challenging, and so forth at some points, even if not on this day.  Was the teacher's strategy of attending to the students who were doing the work effective for those students?  Most importantly, what would it take to replenish this school/classroom with energy and purpose?