Thursday, March 27, 2014

It seems more days than not, I feel like a failure. It seems too often I focus on what's going wrong, instead of believing things are going right. But the past few days have given me some pats on the back that were need.

Today is a half day for parent teacher conferences. As always, I wrote the shortened schedule on the board, along with the day's plan. One student asked, "WHAT TIME DO WE GET OUT??"

Another answered,"It's on the board. Mrs. George ALWAYS has everything we need to know written up there!"

Wow.. I write it every day, but sometimes, I wonder if they ever read it, notice, or care. A little positive affirmation goes a long way. I need to remember that with my students, always looking for ways to show them I do notice their efforts, their progress, their things they do right, all the time. I have to remember that for them, those positive affirmations I give may be the only ones they get in their lives, the only ones they get all day at school, and be more intentional in my affirmations for them.

Another pat on the back came from a different student who saw the employee of the month on the school's home webpage. She asked how to make ME employee of the month. The link on the website didn't work, and honestly, she probably wouldn't have completed the form anyway. She struggles to write and is very self-conscious of her mistakes. But her asking, and the others chiming in to agree with her, were worth more than any award from the district could ever be. I just need to know sometimes that they know I CARE.

But now.. it's parent teacher conference time, time to brag them up if anyone actually shows up!

Monday, February 24, 2014

I don't believe in giving up on kids. I really honestly, down in my deepest of deeps, don't believe in giving up. But sometimes, I feel like I am backed against a wall, and am simply trapped, with nowhere left to go with some of them at times.

We have been studying linear equations/functions in math for a while, a LONG while. We have spent over a week on some lessons. That, I expect. I know with my crew, we will never be able to move as quickly as a regular math class would move. But today, after covering the same topics for days upon days. After exploring the ideas multiple ways. After teaching, reteaching, reviewing, using individualized computer instruction, I gave a quiz over the material. One girl scored a 100%. woohoo!!! AND ... She has been absent a TON lately. But the next highest score was a 67, followed by the remainder being 0's or less than 20%'s. Seriously???? How is it possible at this point they still cannot find slope given 2 points?? They 'learned' it as 7th graders, we reviewed it this year, for several days, we applied it to a variety of situations, the formula was still on the board... and yet, they 'can't' find slope??? Find an x and y intercept?? I may as well have asked them to do cartwheels, except I think they'd be more likely to accomplish that.

I struggle with the interruptions, the lack of caring on their part, the lack of personal responsibility, the refusal to do anything independently, the tardies to class(no, not 10 seconds late, but 10 minutes late..), the suspension days, the 20 minute bathroom breaks in the middle of class, the being more interested in tying your shoes than participating in the lesson, the inability to even bring a pencil to class...

I struggle when I try to talk to them about having a job someday and being told they never plan to work. Instead, they plan to be on 'welfare'.

I struggle when a student tells me they feel sorry for ME because I HAVE to go to work everyday. They plan on just staying home like their parents do.

I struggle when I assign 5 problems to do outside of class, over a week long time period, and they do not complete them.

I struggle with the idea that THEIR test scores determine MY worth as a teacher, when I am giving THEM 110% and they are giving me maybe, MAYBE 10%.

I've been at this gig a long time, and I love the kids, most of them, most of the time.

But it seems with every passing year, students care less and less about school and learning. They do not see the value in education. They never plan to use education in their future.

I try to show them the relevance of what we are learning. I try to make it fun. I try to show them I care. I do all the things that SHOULD work.

But for some of them, nothing seems to....
And they go home, and play their video games, and snapchat, and instagram, and watch TV, and I lie awake and wonder why.. and how.. and if...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Seriously... you want to evaluate (not judge.. because that is something entirely different, right??) me and my teaching on test scores. Fine, dandy, makes about as much sense as most things we do in education today.

So... end of semester one this week. Testing.. lots and lots of testing. 

Sign up computer lab to do testing in, because even though students have school issued netbooks, they forget them, they aren't charged, they have so much junk downloaded on them that the computers run SLOWLY.

Great.. at least in here, things will run smoothly. Or not...

The adjoining room is where the computer techs come each week to fix broken netbooks. There IS a door which separates the two rooms, but the noise level of everything they say and do is much the same as if they were standing front and center in this room. To their credit, they do lower their voices when I go and ask them. But the banging of them moving around, the pulling of tape off a roll, the other constant noises, are distracting to say the least.

I keep tabs on students. One is on #25 of 45 questions about 45 minutes into class. I start formulating a plan for him to finish the test. But alas, he has also noticed the time crunch and miraculously finishes the last 20 questions in under 5 minutes. I am certain he did well on THOSE questions. 

The others plod along each hour, with interruptions to go to the bathroom - students who never ask to go to the bathroom - but it must be the pressure of the testing situations and suddenly they MUST go, NOW. Pencils break, and of course, there is no sharpener in the room so they have to go down the hall to sharpen. People walk by the door. One student finishes and because he refused to bring a book to read when he was done, now he is a constant thorn in everyone's side making irritating noises and movements. 

I can't wait to give the LONG language arts test to my special ed kids 4th hour.. that should be a GREAT experience. 22 pages, 22 long pages,  of reading selections and questions. Why torture them? They know, and I know, and everyone else knows, they read well below grade level. Why do we need another torturous test to show that? 

And of course, the absent students... they will have to miss a day of classroom instruction to make up their tests, to prove once again that they are stupid, and not worthy, and below grade level, making them another day behind, causing them to fall further behind and into even more abysmal failure.

Yes, test more, test more, test more. Evaluate my worth on their tests, please. Don't let me teach. Don't let me encourage. Don't let me individualize. Just test them, and prove again and again they are lagging behind. But don't give me the resources or the opportunity to meet them where they are, coax them to where they could be, but instead, just keep expecting them to fit the round hole you've created for them to be shoved into. 

and wonder why so many talented teachers give up.. and move on to other careers....

Friday, November 15, 2013

Today is opening day of deer season. I swear every other school in the state has a day off, especially since it falls on Friday this year. But not us, ooooohhh no!

So here were are, with half the kids missing, trying to fill the hours. I do try to carry on academics as much as possible, but the reality is, whatever we do today is lost. With so many seats empty, those absent will have to be 're-instructed' Monday.  In THEORY, students should have to make up the work they miss on their own, be herein lies the hard cold reality. Students do not do work outside of school - I don't care what the class, what the assignment.... We have a culture of non-compliance for school work.  Students don't care. It is overwhelming to even consider the how's of fixing it.

Students know they will be sent on to the next grade regardless of their academic progress so many choose coasting though middle school. Even 'good' students are lackadaisical about a missing assignment here and there, so long as they manage to get through.

Part of the issue is with US, the school, the teachers, the system. We have been molded into a group of 'make them feel good about themselves' robots, who bend over backwards to make sure no one fails, and everyone gets through high school. It is like a black mark against US if they choose to fail. This habit is creating a generation of coasters, who will graduate without the skills they need to be successful. We have taught kids we will give them one more one more chance a zillion times, extend yet another deadline, excuse missing work, not expect excellence from them on anything. We mean well, but we overextend the chances to the point of ridiculousness, to the point students no longer expect themselves to meet deadlines or do what is expected because they have been brainwashed into thinking they NEED those accommodations to be successful.

The other component of the downward disaster is parents. Parents think imposing consequences on their children for misbehavior, for missing work, is taboo. I see students who have been suspended spend their punishment day playing video games, snapchatting friends, or taken shopping. Seriously??? Suspension from school should warrant NO FUN at home. Kids LOVE suspensions. Why wouldn't they! We have students who miss 1-2 days of school per week, just because. We have kids whose parents don't care that they are failing and actually perpetuate the acceptance of failure in their children. We have students who come from families who don't work and manage just fine to survive financially, so those students view their future as not needing an education. They think WE are the ones to be pitied because WE have to work everyday to survive.

We are told to build relationships. We are told students will rise to our expectations.
 and sometimes, they do....
and sometimes, they don't.
and sometimes, we can fix them, or us, or both.. and find ways for them to be successful.
and sometimes, it is beyond our scope of possible... 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Today is the last day of MEAP testing. Whew... I am sure glad THOSE scores will be used to evaluate me.

Disruptive students.

Wrong audio version of tests so students were cycled in and out of classroom. Once they realized when they were done, they were allowed to leave and go have 'free time' next door, none of them wanted to do anything but be DONE.

One day the room was freezing cold. Another day it was so hot we sweated just sitting still.

The chairs and tables squeaked with every movement.

The group next door decided to move furniture around loudly.

Another 2 sections took a break in the hall in the middle of our testing.

Tired kids.

Sick kids.

What a nightmare....

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Today's big news? I FIXED my speakers :D ALL BY MYSELF. Anyone who knows me knows I cannot even manage to get a DVD to play in my home DVD player 9 times out of 10. Forget anything more complex.

In history Monday, we tried to watch a short video but the sound was so terrible, the back of the room couldn't hear anything. I was devastated. I just bought new speakers!

But today, determination led me and I figured out the subwoofer wasn't plugged in! YAY! GO ME!

It might seem like a little thing to you, but to me, it is like climbing Mt Everest and not having to have my body left behind on the mountain.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tonight I blog with sadness and a little anger, and a lot of frustration.

Education today is all about the mighty test score. We test kids and test kids and test kids. But there is more to education that trying to cram as much knowledge into their minds as possible. Today's big plan - NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND - Common Core.. it is all a big hocus pocus way to tell schools what they are doing wrong.

When in reality, it isn't the academics where we are failing. Too often, we are failing to give our students the love and support and foundation they need to make good choices.
We've become so oriented towards covering as many standards as possible, pretesting, post testing and retesting, we don't have time to teach the things that really matter.

In the past year, I have had 4 former students go to prison (and no.. I don't teach in inner city, crime ridden neighbor. We have about 60 kids per grade, in a small isolated, rural midwestern town. Not exactly where you'd expect 'these things' to happen..) I've had several young girls end up pregnant before they are grown up themselves. Another two were in a terrible drunk driving car accident, lucky to be alive. Another is on long term suspension. and, and, and, and, and...

Where did we FAIL these kids? It wasn't for lack of testing or trying to teach them irrelevant stuff. It was for lack of love and the lack of  time to show them we love them, and give them the skills they need to SURVIVE in the world.

I am disenchanted, saddened and frightened that yes indeed, we ARE leaving children behind. We are failing them.