My class is getting younger. This isn’t a terrible thing, but it is a worrying thing. I don’t want the influx of kids — mostly 17-year-olds with a couple of 16-year-olds thrown in for good measure — to chase away my ‘real’ adults. We’ve already had a couple of moments that have made it clear that some of the older students aren’t loving the changing age landscape in the room. And today I caught a hint of a negative ageist vibe from one of my new teens. Not good.
It’s early days, of course, so there’s plenty of time for me to steer us back to smoother waters, but I’ve got to get to work now. I don’t want to see this divide get wider. I’m not overly worried, it’s just something I need to stay focused on.
A bigger worry might be the difference in pacing that my new kids seem to require. “Miss. We can’t stay focused for more than 15 minutes,” one told me yesterday. “We all got ADD.”
Yeah. Well, I don’t know if they actually do have ADD, but their attention spans are definitely stunted. I’m used to planning for that from my night class, which was always all kids, so I can handle real or imagined ADD. But my adults can stay focused for more than a few minutes, and I don’t think restyling the class to suit the kids is going to make the adults particularly happy. “It’s a lot of change,” one older student told me last term. “New location and a lot of children. I’m glad you didn’t find a teacher.” She was referring to the fact that this class is supposed to be taught by someone other than me, and I’m always starting the term telling the students that I’m still hoping to find them a teacher. But maybe if I’d succeeded in finding a teacher I’d already have lost that student to the triple-blow of too much new.
Balance. There’s a tricky one under the surface here. I just have find it.