The Light and Dark Side of Goal 24

Goal 24 of the 30 goals challenge relates to supporting character development. An important topic and one I feel rather frustrated about.

On the light side, I’m proud to say that our school promotes volunteering for various causes. Our Purim Festival, two days ago, was also a fund raiser for a learning center for underpriveleged children. Some of the deaf students manned a stall, as they do every year. These kids are the same caring kids that volunteer for all sorts of things.

In addition, In Israel it is mandatory to put in 60 hours of volunteer work during 10th grade. In the past, most of the deaf students didn’t do it mainly because they live far away from school and have no flexibility due to the timetable of the transportation services. An energetic Lit. teacher changed all that and organized volunteer work for kids in school. My learning center is a good place for that (always posters and materials made of construction paper that need to be redone!) and till recently I had 5 kids coming in. Some do it gladly however some are sullen about it.

Some students also volunteer at the children and youth clubs that the “Shema” organization runs. That is awesome!


It’s a certain group of teenagers that are active and caring. The rest are incredibly self-centered. Worse, they lack curiosity about anything that isn’t related to them directly. The exhibit a lack of interest that sometimes drives me “up the wall”. If I sit next to a pupil and try to tell him /her a bit about the topic he’s working on many simply don’t care. So what?

One of the disadvantages of teaching a foreign language in a learning center format is that we almost never have class discussions. We don’t speak in English (discussion would have to be in Hebrew) and the levels of ability and sophistication are too wide to be bridged in many cases (we learn through reading).

Some of these students buy into the “don’t confuse me with the facts” doctrine. The most extreme example I ever had (but that was only one pupil, thank goodness!) was a student who would not be convinced that in other parts of the world it actually rains in the Summer. His classmate said that she visited Spain in the Summer and it rained on her but he refused to accept that.

With some of the students I’m still battling with respectful behavior in the classroom, never mind volunteering to help with something or being interested. If there is something that makes me lose my temper is to see students abuse materials in the classroom (tearing parts off a poster, scribbling on something, or drawing with the “white-out” I bought for use in class). A 12th grader (!!!) screamed at me last week because I insist on leaving the window partly open even when it rains because we need air in the class. She doesn’t pay any attention to her parents and she is only interested in me when she is in the mood to care about her grade. This pupil had to leave the class and was reported but that hasn’t made any inroads on her behavior when she’s annoyed in the past two and a half years.

In short, I feel that in regards to supporting character behavior, there are many pupils with whom my record is dismal.

4 thoughts on “The Light and Dark Side of Goal 24”

  1. Naomi,

    I can tell you care so much! Along with the caring is the frustration. Sometimes, I have to remind myself I’m planting seeds that may blossom at another season in the students’ lives. Keep up your great work! You’re such an incredibly passionate teacher!

  2. Thank you so much for your ongoing support and for creating this 30 goals project! It has become such a meaningful experience in my life!

  3. Hi Naomi

    Wow… how frustrating… you have so much patience and dedication to work in the context you do and maintain your enthusiasm. I’m pretty sure I’d have given up long ago! Just wanted to add to Shelly’s comments and say how clear it is that you really do care about your students.

    Part of me wants to sit and think about ideas to help and part of me feels like that would be too patronising as I have so little experience of working in the circumstances you describe.

    What I love about your blog is that you have taken what to many teachers would seem a constricting and stifling set of circumstances and are turning them into something beautiful. “Visualising ideas”, using your creativity etc…

    None of it helps though in those moments when everything seems to be falling apart and despite numerous efforts you still aren’t communicating what you wanted too!

    Not really sure what I’m trying to say really… maybe just that the light in your teaching clearly outweighs the dark, alongside a thank you for sharing about the dark so openly and honestly.

    You’re an inspiration 🙂

  4. This 30 goals has become a reflective experience for me. And I’m so lucky to have your support on this journey. I guess things hurt more when you try really hard. But some things are going well and some kids are responding and growing. But never all…

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