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THE PAST PARTICIPLE AND PROFESSIONAL DOUBT

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After an exercise on verb tenses in which a number of her students wrote (among other things) that the past participle of freeze is "froozen," Jules the Crazy of Mildly Melancholy finds herself becoming increasingly frustrated with her class—and herself:

FINE, none of them are actually stupid or dumb. Gah, I know I can't say that and that I'm going to hell for even thinking it. I don't really believe they're idiots. Senseless goofs, some of them, yes. LOTS of them are really low level and that makes me very nervous, because I really don't know if anything I do helps.

She has to remind herself that "I'm not a bitter commie monster (ooh, great name for a blog!) who hates children or calls names," but instead:

I'm a teacher who CARES about what the students are learning and who wants them to actually LEARN something, which requires them to pay attention, and me to work hard to monitor their progress.
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Remember, you are there to improve their education, not to accomplish impossible miracles. If we respect the human dignity of all students then we should also respect their right to exercise a degree of autonomy and personal choice. Some students quite deliberately go against their personal self interest and choose to not do their best. You can help them overcome that faulty thinking, but only partially in some cases. I am sure that you achieve great success with some students and that is good to dwell on.

With the NCLB Act into law, it is difficult these days for teachers in their desperate need to be fully accountable, and insure that their students perform well on tests, to put intimidation above education, which leads to failure at all levels.

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