So, I just finished a game for my students for vocabulary practice. As I finished, I thought, as I often do – is it worth it?
I consider myself a good teacher. I spend many hours preparing good lessons, creating games, grading papers, and overall, trying to make my classroom a good place to be. I want my students to learn, and even if they don’t appreciate everything I teach, I want them to at least feel the need to be there.
My “is it worth it” question comes from observing two things today, and usually everyday. Quite often, I watch my classroom of students make no effort to do anything I ask unless there is some immediate reward for them–candy, points, etc. Would they put in the same amount of effort if I gave them a worksheet, printed from the internet, as long as I gave them a candy bar when they were finished. Would they learn the same thing. I spend two hours creating a review game, and while I know they’ll have fun when they play tomorrow, are they really getting anything out of it?
I ask “is it worth it” when a student comes to me in class and asks how he can fix his English grade so he doesn’t have to go to summer school and then watch him leave the list of makeup work on the desk when the bell rings.
I ask “is it worth it” when I repeatedly have to ask students to put away the phone or the Chromebook because they are not listening, writing, learning.
I ask “is it worth it” when I see students sleeping in my class who are sleeping not because they’re bored, but because they work to support their family–and for them, understanding Shakespeare is not going to make a difference.
I ask “is it worth it” when I look at my students and realize that preparing them for college is not the right path for them and that what they’re doing in my class is essentially a waste of their time.
I ask “is it worth it” when I give them an opportunity to share what they know in a way that works for them, they simply turn away and do nothing.
I could go on and on.
But, then, I realize that sometimes, it is worth it. Today, a former student of mine came to my class to teach my current students how to do a presentation. I gave him a day’s notice, and he did it, for no other reason than because I obviously meant something to him. He got nothing from me except a “Thank you” and a smile.
I hope he felt it was “worth it”.