There is something about watching my students strain with the effort of counting by hand their 100-word-minimum essays at the end of their test that brings to me a flood of joy, tumult of joy.
First, their unreasonable reaction of having to count by hand 75 words the other day on a partnered assignment – now that was too much, and I merely scoffed at their shock that they had actually to Count the words…
Automatic word count on the computer has spoiled them, and they know no other way of obtaining a word count – some actually didn’t understand how they were supposed to know how many words they had, if it was hand-written… I just looked at them with doubt and distaste, and let them figure out (finally) that they have to count it themselves.
Then, the fact that they tend to annoy me just about every day with their nonsense and casual rudeness of chit-chat while I’m talking or when I ask for silence – “quieter” and “silence” are not the same thing, just FYI – plays a role.
When they sit down in class, all backpacks against the back wall, with only writing utensils and any notes they want to use – but nothing digital – and receive the article and accompanying packet that says they must complete it for a trade by the end of class, they suddenly realize that this task is important.
I take almost everything for a grade in class, but I think that most of them do not check their grades regularly, and so have no idea that I do this.
Today, wit bit written clearly at the end of the instructions on the packet, it somehow finally clicked for them: This is for a grade.
After I told them to begin, the room was silent.
And it remained silent.
This was the first time this class had ever been silent for more than about 30-45 seconds at a time…
… and I could not stop smiling.
I actually had to turn around and cover my mouth, I just couldn’t stop smiling at their lasting silence – they were also not only silent, but working, too.
We’ll see how they did… if they followed instructions throughout the quarter, they ought to have middle to high A’s on the exam… if they haven’t, well, then they won’t have so good grades…tant pis.
And so, nearing the end of this silent hour, I delighted in watching them, just for once, suffer a task, especially one that has always seemed so commonplace to and for me…
A whole new round of smiling popped out of my mouth at that point, and I loved it. 😛