By the way, I deliberately wrote this in a sort of funny tone (to convince myself it was funny, I think), but it's not exaggerated.
Well, okay, my head didn't actually explode....
I have always been very leery of prompt dependence. After all, when you've seen a kid who'd been programmed right into not eating unless you tapped her elbow before every bite, that kinda thing becomes important to you.
(And, the fact that her aide saw nothing wrong with that? Frightening.)
Anyhow, I have a student. We'll call him R.
R. has been known to dither around all morning with his journal (I kid you not -- he might leave it for a novel study, but he's always asked to go back to it) because he doesn't know how to spell a certain word.
"Just try," I'll say. "Do the best you can. Try to sound it out."
Because (1) he can, and (2) I don't want him just sitting around passively waiting for help, and (3) he's notorious for asking for help he does not need.
Much time later, my molars have been ground into dust, and I'm left begging, "Just write something. Anything, as long as it's a letter."
Then, the others stop to get their snacks, and I say, "You need to finish your journal before you can have your snack."
Twenty second later, an attempt has been made. Often, it's a fairly good attempt. Sometimes, it's perfect.
But he would rather sit and wait you out for hours because he's convinced that sooner or later you'll feel bad for poor wittle R. and do it for him.
We had an issue like that today. R. was doing a math page. A simple math page. He can add (and regroup), subtract, count by 10s and 5s (which means he can multiply the Touch Math way).
He had to do a simple word problem; the end result of which was 9 - 6.
I had written the math problem for him; all he had to do was DO it.
He'd done two other subtraction problems on that page already.
Well...after repeatedly reading the question (which I finally covered up because, hello, the problem is THERE, you don't have to read it again), and then writing 96 three times, I say to him, "R., you have already done a take away problem on this page. I know you can subtract, so you need to do this problem yourself."
"Okay," he says.
"Yeah, right," I think.
So, the morning goes on. We have recess. The darned journal is still there.
I finally cave (bad me) and say, "If you don't know any other way to do this problem, go get the counters and do that."
It's now 10 minutes before the end of the school day.
He takes out 2.
(I about have a stroke.)
"Your problem is 9 take away 6. How many do you start with?"
(I count to ten in about 5 languages.)
"What do you need to do?"
(The other R. tries to lick my arm.)
(My head explodes.)
"So get 9."
"Oooooh," he says, like it's a revelation from God.
(At this point, for some reason, I heard Dory from Finding Nemo: "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.)
"Now how many do you take away?"
"R." I say. "The problem is NINE minus SIX. You have NINE. How many do you need to take away?"
(The other R., who is now done writing his apology letter to his mom, tries to steal R.'s journal.)
(I contemplate alcoholic beverages. "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.")
"How many are you taking away?"
(At this point, I am praying for a nuclear apocalypse.)
"So take them away."
R's mom, who will no doubt be yelling at me approximately fourteen hours from now, walks in. Despite the fact that school's not over yet, and our door was closed.
"Miss ____, my mom's here!"
"Finish that first, please."
"Fowwy, ______" the other R. says.
"Go put your letter to mom in your backpack," I say.
R. tries to solicit mom's help.
I drive a nail into my own coffin by saying, "R., you know how to do this. You just told me what to do. You need to do it on your own."
The other R. tries to go hide in the bathroom.
I follow him. R's mom doesn't have to hear the other R. shrieking, giggling, "Pee pee! Pee pee! Pee pee!"
I turn back.
R's mom has told him how to finish the math problem, and has helped him do it.
(Molars? What molars? Who needs molars?)
R's mom chooses then to wait outside.
I add another final nail to my coffin, and go over to R.
"R," I said, "Did I ask you to do that problem on your own?"
"But your mom helped you. That's not doing it on your own."
"Did you follow my directions?"
"No, you did not. I asked you to work on your own. You asked mom for help. You need to apologize for not following directions."
"Sorry, Miss _____."
Maybe I'll call in sick tomorrow.
Or go to the dentist.
Or, you know, wear a cape and carry a pitchfork.