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Two Writing Teachers. Thanks for stopping by, and thank you TWT!
I tune out the teacher
when I'm bored
when I'm tired
when I don't want to listen
when I have something better to do
when I'm not interested in the class
when I don't like the subject
when the teacher never shuts up
won't stop talking
drones on forever...
I slip on
I put on
I plug in
I listen to
I tune out when my teacher wants me to tune in.
On Friday I listened to students in speech present "Paper Bag Speeches," an introductory speech activity. I give the students a paper bag and ask them to put three school appropriate items in the bag and share with the class how each item reveals something about themselves.
Many of the students brought their earbuds, and I've used some of the comments above to compose the "poem," such as it is. In fairness, many students talked about music as a way to relax and deal with stress, but it's the "I want to tune out" theme that really made me think.
Why do students want to tune out when they are in school? We need to pose this question and answer it honestly. I'm saddened when students tell me a lesson is uninteresting or boring.
In ninth grade my speech teacher Nydia May Jenkins reiterated the importance of making our speeches interesting:
Don't bore your listener. Give them a speech they will really enjoy.
That's a direct quote from a handout Miss J. gave the class, and it has been my guiding principle in creating lessons. Even when I must teach a mandated text that doesn't thrill me, it's my job to find a way to make it engaging.
However, we must also teach our students to be interested in school, but that doesn't mean only telling them to find the subject interesting. In speech I have an easier time with this because kids get to pick their topics. If they pick a topic that doesn't interest them, that's their choice to own. The best speeches grow from self-indulgence. For example, a student who was cyber-bullied researched that topic last trimester and presented her best speech of the course.
The paper bag speech begins with kids hiding their items in the bag and slowly revealing each one. These items help me guide students in their topic choices, but I wouldn't be able to do that if the items remained in the bag.
Similarly, kids who hide inside music libraries funneled into their ears via a set of ear buds might as well be squatting in a paper bag. The first step in helping them tune-in is to avoid allowing them to tune-out.
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