Guide to First Year Teaching/Trouble shooting/Trouble With Mandy

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Situation: I teach 8th language arts and have had a difficult time reaching some of the students, especially in my 5th period. In this class, I have many students who are below grade level. One particular student, Mandy, refuses to write or read anything I give her. "Miss, why do I have to read this anyway?" I try to explain to her that it is required for the 8th grade and that she might finding it interesting if she gave it a chance. She just brushes me off. When I assign writing projects, she would rather take a zero instead. I know that she has potential; she seems very bright. I just don't know how to reach her. --New Teacher (sample)

Response #1: Relevant Reading Materials You have tough situation on your hands. As a teacher of Language Arts myself, I find that students who refuse to read or write usually feel that the stuff we assign them is boring. (Granted after reading it over and over for the last couple of years, I might agree!) One way I work around this is to bring popular trade books or magazines. At the beginning of the year, I give all my students an interest survey, which helps me get ideas about their hobbies and what topics they like. Then, I visit with the librarian to see what materials we might have available. Sometimes, I build my own library of interesting materials by going to yard sales. I hope this helps. --Miss. Carter, Central Middle School, Texas (sample)

Response #2: Success Builds on Success Having worked with at-risk students in my district for the last 5 years, I have discovered that students like Mandy oftentimes refuse to do work because they believe that they are not good in the subject. So, rather than try, they simply don't put forth the effort. This way if they fail, they can chalk it up to not caring. I would begin with small, simple reading passages or assignments. These assignments should have high interest value and incorporate higher thinking skills. If Mandy can complete these smaller assignments in class with success, she might begin to love her fear of failing and begin to see herself as successful. --Mr. Tweedmoore, Western Middle School, Alaska (sample)

      • Note: This is just a sample page. I hope we can agree on the basic formatting. This makes it easier for the new teacher to navigate.