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How much help, is too much help

Brittaney Miller

Last year due to budget cuts, I was given my first co-taught high school english class (regular students mixed with ESE). I am teaching another this year.

I have always allowed my kids to come before school and at lunch to make up assignments and get help. While my regular students take advantage of this opportunity regularly, many of my ESE students do not. Then, when I do help them with assignments most refuse to think for themselves and want me to do the work for them. I have made parent contact and truly am an optomist, but I feel like these students are tyimng my hands behind my back.

Am I helping too much?

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Retired Supt; 33 years in public ed; lives in Colorado mountains w/ family

Brittaney, Most of us get

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Brittaney,

Most of us get into education because we honestly believe we can 'make a difference' in the lives of our students. You know your students best. If you have that intuitive feeling that you are being used, then you are probably teaching more "helplessness" than anything else. Talk about it honestly and directly with other teachers and/or some of your students or their parents. It sometimes is a fine line in teaching self-direction and responsibility and in teaching dependency and helplessness. Follow your instincts on this one.

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Thanks Bill. I actually just implemented a new policy for this 2nd semester, which I like to call "Failure is Not an Option." For major assigments not completed I am assigning lunch detentions in my room until the assignments is complete. Failure to show up for a lunch detention will be dealt with accordingly by administration. For the students first major paper last week it truly worked! I received 80% of the classes essays on time and others served their detention until it was complete. I am really excited!

Brittany, I am also trying a

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Brittany, I am also trying a Failure is Not an Option policy in my room this semester. It is encouraging to see that it is working for you. Have you had any parental envolvement or problems due to lunch detention?

Graduation Coach

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That is an awesome question. In my position, I identify students, seniors particularly, who are in danger of not graduating and putting together a plan to get them graduated. The problem, as you can imagine, is that I put more time and effort into putting this plan together than the students puts into sticking to the plan. So I find myself constantly revamping the plan to accommodate the student. Now I know the popular voice would say, "if they don't stick to the plan, they just don't graduate". I agree with that voice, but I also have downtown looking at the schools graduation rate and expecting that number to be at a certain percentage. So I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place most of the time.

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Brittaney, I am in a similar situation. I co-teach Marine Biology to high school students. I am the special education highly qualified teacher. All you can do if offer the help... and I know it does get 'tricky' when you feel you are doing the work for them and can't find a happy-medium.
I try to present the information in an interesting way and create more hands-on learning experiences for the students. I also have a checklist for assignments.
It is a simple spreadsheet with the students names and then when they hand something in, I put a check. This is not a grade sheet, therefore I can pass the sheet around or the students can see when I post it on the board. They know they have until mid-term to get their papers in, and then until grades are due to hand in the second half of assignments.

If you can do more hands-on activities that relates to their prior existing knowledge and their life experiences, I believe you will have students wanting to do the assignments! =)

Good Luck!

I too get so frustrated when

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I too get so frustrated when it seems that I am doing more work than the students. I wish I had the answer. I teach 7th and 8th grade Mathematics and just the other day I was giving instruction at the front of the classroom, as my eyes scanned the class I noticed about 5 of my students were messing around not paying attention to the new concept being introduced. They were towards the back of class, so I asked them to pay attention on several occassions but noticed they did not adhere to my directions. My classroom is very interactive therefore, they thought I didn't know they weren't paying attention and carried forth with what they thought was important at the time which needless to say wasn't math! When it was time for my students to begin there independent work, those that were engaged in our lesson got to work confidently and expressed how easy they thought the assignment was. My 5 little darlings that chose to goof off were totally lost. Without even attempting one problem on their homework they were already raising there hands, coming to my desk, and expressing how "hard" the assignment was. I called these 5 students into the hallway discussed with them their behavior. I told them that I would not help them that they would have to come in before or after school on their own time since they had chose to waste my time in class. We discussed why they felt the lesson was hard and their role and responsibility in the whole situation. I then sent them back into the classroom and they pretty much sat there for the remainder of the class. It was so hard for me to not help them during class that day for I knew they had not listened to the lesson or participated in learning but I had to make a point. Low and behold, so far everyday since this little incident these 5 students have stayed involved during instruction time (which is very minimal), and have behaved well. I really think they were so shocked that I would not help them that very day in class, and as I said it was quite hard not too, but I think my point was well made. :)

High School Drama Teacher

I know how you feel, I am

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I know how you feel, I am currently an Instructional Assistant (because of all the budget cuts)I sometimes feel that the students use me in class to tell them anwsers and to not actually get help. I read the books in the English classes and the students know that I will help them so they know they don't have to read the book. I have started making them work for my help. They have to prove that they have read something before I will help them, I am not just going to give them anwsers anymore. I have noticed that it has helped. I am still looking for more ways to get them motivated and for me to not just give them anwsers, but it is hard sometimes. I want my students to succeed so bad, there is a very thin line between help and just giving them anwsers.

I often have this same

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I often have this same question myself. I have one student, on an IEP, who has extreme self-confidence issues when it comes to academics. She is constantly wanting to help to the point that I sometimes feel like I'm doing her work for her. This situation was really bad at the beginning of the year, but she is getting better. For a while it was so frustrating because she would ask for help on EVERY question. I've finally got her to the place now where she has to read each question three times before coming up for help. When she does come up for help I have her read the question and then rephrase back to me what the question is asking. This technique does seem to be helping her and she is gaining much more confidence in herself. I do definately feel the same frustrations that many of you feel.

April what a wonderful and

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April what a wonderful and patient teacher you are. What a good idea of having her read the question 3 times. One strategy I use is similar to yours, only I tell the kids they can only ask me 3 questions. Each time they raise their hand or come to my desk for help I put an X on the top of their paper. I have found they are more selective of what questions they ask and work harder at answering more on their own. This strategy encourages them to use their notes/and or other resources to help them and by them looking it up on their own they seem to retain it much better. Ironically I had started this in my honors classes as these students are so concerned about their grade. It has definitely increased their self confidence in math.

I feel the same way with my

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I feel the same way with my 5th graders. They are all reading below grade level, and they have seemed to have developed a learned helplessness. They know that they are struggling, and immediately turn to me for help before they try the assignment themselves. I sometimes wonder if they are really needing the help or if they have just learned that it is easier to have a teacher right there with you. I have been trying to implement a "Failure Is Not An Option" policy, but this can be hard with elementary students who are required to have some recess time each day. (even if it is walking laps for behavior. Many of my students do not have a lot of parental involvement at home and therefore, it is hard to get students to finish work at home. Any elementary teachers out there have suggestions as to how to help those students who don't want to do their work, get their work turned in on time?

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