Okay. I just spent the last month teaching 100 students pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and colloquialisms in the English language. Yesterday, I asked each of them if they had done their homework, and fully HALF of them said, "No teacha, I ause yeseday," (No teacher, I was absent yesterday.)
So, why go to all the trouble to present this stuff, if they are so willing to throw it aside when they have the opportunity to use it in a more authentic way than a contrived dialogue written in their textbooks? Never mind the fact that most of them WERE NOT absent - why NOT add what they learn to their repertoir, rather than stick with the "I ause yeseday"? What better way to personalize and make an authentic conversation than to talk about something real for them?
Today they have their final written exam, tomorrow they have to present a project in spoken and written form, and on Thursday, they have an oral exam in which they have to make use of all the language they have in their lessons. "I ause yeseday" gives me no confidence at all that they have learned or have tried to learn anything. I guess I'll see.
I've been told by the administration that I'm too demanding and that I expect way too much from my students. I wonder if that's bad. I expect them to be motivated and study. I expect them to come to class. I expect them to do their homework. I absolutely expect them to respond in some way, be it a correct answer, an "I don't know," or even "I don't really care." At the end of the cycle, many of them try to wheedle a better grade out of me by whining and tearing up or batting their eyes and flirting with me. Some try to intimidate me into raising their grades. Still others use guilt trips and head games, and one even resorted to the traditional Peruvian way - bribery.
I don't remember school or the few college classes I took being anything remotely like this. Maybe all those years working for the Air Force made my world too sheltered and structured. What ever happened to integrity, responsibility, and impeccability? Actually, I'm not that hard of a person. If I can see some TRY in a student, I'm willing to give him or her the benefit of the doubt. But to spend the cycle piddling around, talking about boyfriends, trying to sleep in class, or just not coming, and THEN try to squeeze extra points out of me? Sorry baby, I'm not that easy.