We all got them. The key is to try to figure out a way to solve the problems. 🙂 Not always possible, but I gotta try.
Here is a list of pet peeves of mine that students do, each and every day. We love the kids and that’s why we teach, but they do drive us a little crazy from time to time. 🙂
- Come to class without a pencil. Because apparently pencils appear out of thin air whenever you need one. Unfortunately, no matter how much I try to tell kids to bring their own writing utensils, some just won’t. So I have a constant supply of pencils. I’ve thought about making some with some embarrassing quote on them so that I will at least get them back.
- Spill coffee on assignments and hand it in anyway. I had one student who turned in a coffee-stained assignment in… EVERY SINGLE TIME! It became almost a running joke in the class. After a month or so, I told her I wouldn’t accept any more coffee-stained assignments anymore. She was otherwise a great student, so I didn’t really follow through. But yeah. No stained assignments. (Coffee isn’t even the worst thing that it could be stained with)
- Ask to use the bathroom during class at a crucial learning moment. We all have had this happen. You’re leading the students, step by step, towards a big discovery, a final equation, an essential piece of the puzzle that will help them understand the rest of the year. And someone asks to use the bathroom. (This is why I have a “you may go to the bathroom in the first five minutes of class, AND THAT’S IT” rule.)
- Plagiarize. ‘Nuf said. I don’t collect daily homework anymore for this reason (plus who has time to grade homework every day) and I like to grade things they have done in class, in front of me, so I know who actually did it. I’m always looking for ideas to help with discouraging plagiarism.
- Mess up the lab room. Or not follow lab room procedures carefully. A student group doesn’t wash out their beakers. Or leaves reagent bottles out on their table. Or (heaven forbid) clogs the sink with those useless brown paper towels that don’t actually do anything? All of these scenarios can cost your next class major learning time. I do a few things to try to prevent these scenarios from happening… as often anyway. The big part of keeping students accountable for their messes is to know who is actually making the mess and make sure every group member understands it is the whole group’s responsibility to clean up! I assign a lab group to each students and I write it down, so I know who was where and who left their stuff out. I deduct points for the whole group if anything is left out. I also set up lab tables with their own mini-containers of reagents (whenever possible), so the use of a common reagent table is limited.
Here is another example: improper use and storage of microscopes! I teach them in the beginning of the year how to get out a microscope properly, how to use it properly, and how to put it away properly. But every single time I do a microscope lab (probably around 6 times during the school year), students leave slides on the stage. They don’t wind the cord around the arm nicely so the cord isn’t hanging onto the shelf below it. The low power objective isn’t in position, meaning another student could play with the stage and damage a higher power objective. And the plastic cover is left on the table, not on the scope. A lot of these issues happen because students are in a rush at the end of lab, want to get to their next class, and don’t do what they’re supposed to do.
So here are a few solutions I have to deal with the microscope-misuse problem:
- I create microscope lists with students assigned to each microscope for the whole year. Each microscope has a number and a student name (per class period) associated to it and I post the lists so students won’t forget. (I was lucky enough to have enough scopes for everyone.) This way, I know that if Johnny in period 2 goes to get his microscope and tells me that there is still a slide on the stage, I can look at my list and find out it was Jimmy in period 3 who left it there!
- I created a poster that has some storage directions to remind students to put their microscopes away properly. I plan to hang it on the microscope cabinet front, so that they see it every time they go to put their microscope away!
You can get this microscope class list and microscope care poster in my store, here!
What’s your classroom pet peeve? Let me know in the comments below!