on the thirteenth…

seems appropriate to not use writing convention rules on the thirteenth, not a Friday the thirteenth, but a thirteenth nonetheless
I am in the midst of the beginning of a new school year.

We are three weeks in (yep, only three weeks!) and the tone has been set.

For my high school classes, the tone is one of learning, discussing, creating, reflecting, and expanding our horizons. My regular kids, as well as my honors kids, are reaching beyond the traditional “is this enough to just get by.” Don’t get me wrong, there are those few who still struggle to just get by, but I know so much more is happening than not, that I sometimes just sit back and marvel in how these kids are quickly becoming adults.

I have always considered the concept of “teenagerhood” a twentieth century concept, even before reading a few studies and books on the idea. And, if I wasn’t feeling rather lazy about doing anything at all tonight, I would go look up some of those references for ya’ll. Anyway, I think too many adults today take for granted the whole – they are teenagers, so there are certain things expected of them – bad decision making, sleeplessness, etc. I do acknowledge the research out there, which points out the teenage brain is still growing and being molded. But, I do believe too many times some adults allow behaviors to slip by unnoticed or unacknowledged because of the simple status as a teenager.

The reason I digress, when I hold my students to appropriate expectations, they rise to meet them. But I know far too many who are willing to lower expectations because of life circumstances being less than perfect for students. Instead of holding them to expectations and giving them the skills to become resilient, persistent, and reflective, I have seen too many adults use excuses, give breaks, and allow students to put forth less effort simply because their circumstances “suck” in teen parlance.

And what I see, on a regular basis, in my own classroom when I get students thinking, learning, and doing are conversations–often unprovoked–about the upcoming election, books they are reading, and conversations about how to complete something I have asked them to complete. They know I expect on task behavior. They know the assignment/project/task requirements. They work. Because I have the expectation they will. And the side conversations are not about parties, drinking, and/or drugs, which is often what classroom conversations can devolve into with a lack of expectations and procedures. We all have those tough classes. And I have out of the ordinary ones this year.

But, when my regular students are “caught” talking about the upcoming election without it being a simple sparring of “Obama’s no good” or “Romney’s no good, because he’s a Mormon.” It’s about who’s ahead in which states, based on recent poll results and suppositions about why one is ahead of the other. It’s a conversation of substance, not simple empty rhetoric, which many teenagers think is adequate “just to get by.”

Did I have a point? I ask, now that I am finished. More stream of conscious, but ideas and thoughts I plan to revisit.

And yes, I am still reading. I have several books almost finished. Look for reviews soon!

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