Tuesday, March 17, 2009

This is the first year we have truly tracked for math. The jury is still out as to the success of the schedule.

I do like the fact that my prealgebra students can move along without worry we are leaving some of the students behind. These are students with at or above grade level math kids when they come to me, so we spend very little time reviewing concepts taught in previous years. I am free to teach content relevant to 7th grade not things they should have learned before.

The class I struggle the most with is not suprisedly, the low group. The makeup of this group is by design, the students who for whatever reason, just do not have the background from 6th grade, or even before, they need to accomplish what the prealgebra kids are doing. About a third of these students are hard workers, ones who always do what is asked of them, always make their best efforts, and are never discpline problems. Another third are fringe kids, those with frequent absences or other issues which make it difficult for them to be successful, but they are not hard core discpline cases, and can do the work, just hard a tough time keeping up. The last third are hard core discpline students, those who are frequently suspended, and when here, do everything possible to avoid working. They are disruptive, refuse to work, are unmotivated, and just simply do not care. One day one student might work some, but the others are loud and disruptive. Another day, you think you have almost connected with another one, but any gains made with the one from the day before are gone.

It feels like I am walking up a slippery slope, one step forward, three steps back.

I try to make class engaging. I try to plan fun, hands on activities when appropriate. However, these are the students who throw things, intentionally wreck supplies, crumple their garbage into the cubbies instead of using the trash can, despite several trips to the can during class. They come to class without a pencil, their book, or paper. They have no ideas where anything is, nor do they care.

I truly do believe every student CAN learn. Some of these are the brightest kids in the school. I just struggle with the every student WILL learn motto. Too often, second hour, I feel like that is out of my control.

Despite my best efforts to engage, to work individually with them, to make those personal connections, nothing seems to make a lasting impact.

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