The year is winding down, and I feel relieved and melancholy all in the same breath. It's been an up and down year, no doubt, but overall, 2012/2013 will go down in history as one of my better school years. I think, in large part, that was due to having students I have had in the past. I've been able to see them grow, see the progression, celebrate the accomplishments they have achieved.
I leave the year frustrated with many things... I feel as if no matter what, I will never reach many of these students. I see them up all night on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter... unconcerned about their being tired the next day. No parental control/supervision at home to support our efforts here. No consequences for their actions, no pats on the back for their academic accomplishments. It is as if school and home were two different worlds that ought never intertwine.
Today was the middle school awards assembly. I know many are against these types of presentations of awards to accomplished students, and teaching special ed, I feel the pain and embarrassment of my crew when they are passed over, award after award. But on the other hand, I see the awards they COULD have gotten - citizenship, attendance, positive attitude, etc... Ones that some of my crew DID get. :D I wish we would do the awards assembly the FIRST day of school instead of one of the last. I wish we could inspire more students to want to be on stage, expect to be on stage, learn to be students in the true sense of the word.
I see the cuts proposed for next year, and I am worried my kids will be the ones lost in the shuffle. Too many decisions are made on numbers alone - you can have 20 on your caseload. Period. End of discussion. Forget trying to realistically SERVE 20 students in 12 different classes at any given time. Forget that *I* am their only advocate, the only person here many of these kids believe believes in them. Forget that unless they have someone there for them, they will just not bother, choose failure, slip between the cracks, fail, and look towards dropping out. I get it that money is tight. I get it tough decisions have to be made. I get it, I really do. But there is more to life to than MONEY. The worth of a child's success can not be measured in $$$ signs.
My summer will be spent planning for teaching 7th and 8th grade language arts in the fall for the first time. I am excited, apprehensive and confident, all at the same time. I have so many ideas to corral in my plans, in my thoughts - interactive notebooks, writer's workshop, read alouds, vocabulary building activities.... all with crews with reading levels from kindergarten to near grade level, all lumped together. It will be a wild journey, one I hope to share with you!