I'm not talking about my own motivation; I'm pretty motivated.
I'm talking about the seventh graders.
The jigsaw activity was not very successful. I explained the whole project and put a calendar of it on the board. I described the ways they'd be held accountable to each other. I created an activity that required the expertise of each member of the group, and that asked them to make judgments and decisions. The work they produced was simply not impressive. I don't get the feeling they bought into any of it at all. In fact, I almost never feel like I have buy-in from my seventh grade classes. From individual kids, yes, from some, nearly every day. But the classes as a whole feel incredibly resistant to my every attempt to create interesting projects and hold them to high standards.
The comic book or short story project was not very successful. I put a large amount of time & energy into checking & commenting on their first drafts, yet a cursory glance at the final drafts suggests they barely revised them, and some look - again, at a glance - like they may be lower quality than the first drafts! Again, no buy-in. Kids who cared - about rocks or even just about their grades - would have found many supports embedded in the assignment - rubrics, detailed planning worksheets, time in class to work on the project, detailed comments on their first draft aimed at helping them improve their work. But it's like no one looked at any of this.
Their apathy is making it hard for me to connect to them, to be patient with them, to want to put much effort in on my part. I eagerly plan sixth grade assignments, because I know the sixth graders will greet me with excited eyes and will pester me with a hundred questions about how to do the work perfectly; I procrastinate when it comes to planning seventh grade work, because the voices in my head whisper, it doesn't matter what you do, they don't give a sh*t. I knew this was a difficult bunch, but I think I've only now put my finger on the part of the problem that is hardest for me to deal with. The behavior problems aren't such a big deal, but I am having an unexpectedly tough time figuring out how to handle this level of apathy.
What am I going to do about it?