Thursday, February 17, 2011

trying to respond to students

I don't know how successful this will be, or if this is a good idea at all, but I have a couple of students who might be a bit despondent these days about their reading levels, and probably quite frustrated by the fact that they're still in Read 180.

I also have two of my favorite students completely down in the dumps lately: unresponsive, very cold, not trying (one of 'em, at least). Basically, not their usual selves. This kills me, because they were the lights of my career as a second-year teacher. They made my class lively, entertaining and wonderful.

So, since most of my students fill out once in a while (when I want to get a "pulse of the classroom" as they say in the fucking jargon) this fill in the blanks free-write, and since a lot of them say the same stuff, I feel like it's time to respond to them. I'm going to use the same format, but just make it a response, allay fears, hopefully build confidence, hopefully show them that I know they're growing and doing better each time.

Is this an ok thing to do? I think so. I'll just trust my judgement, and see where it goes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

the process of covering one's butt

One of the things that is very difficult for me to swallow is having to cover yourself. I didn't understand this concept at all in grad school, and didn't exactly follow it to the T last year. This year, however, stakes have raised, and, in order for me to function well--both under IMPACT and under the administration here--is to cover myself:

1. Always make sure you "hit" a certain amount of higher order thinking questions (HOTS, what a silly acronym)
2. Create spreadsheets that cross-reference DCBAS, Lexile levels, ELL levels and SpEd status and accomodations--for any other reason than just simply having it handy.
3. Keep a list of evidence that you have called 100% of parents, recording each time you call and whether it was answered, and what actions will take place.

The thing that makes me the most frustrated is that all of these are probably, in all likelihood, useful! But the mere fact that it is "required" of me to "hit" high order thinking questions, instead of "encourage" me to make my students go farther by asking them deeper questions, seems to me to be fake. Maybe it's the rebellious-side of me, but all this constant "hitting" things, or covering or do-it-because-they-tell-me really makes me less interested in the educational theory our school wants to shove toward us. It makes me also just not want to do it.

So, here's my question to the masses: how do I make it so that I can convince myself that, it's ok to do things with silly acronyms, or collect data sets, or record how many times I've called a parent? In a way, how do I make myself care?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

a triple-header tonight--procrastination at its finest

Check out this little quote: the 8-year-old son of Teach for America founder, Kopp, interviewed her for a project at school:

She quotes her son Benjamin, then 8, after he had interviewed her about her life's work for a school project. His final question was: "If this is such a big problem -- you know, kids not having the chance to have a good education -- why would you ask people with no experience right out of college to solve it?"
Interesting, no? I ask this same question many times. I think TFA has lots of good points, but many, many bad. I'm not a fan of those who think it's a vacation between college and law school (no offense to those who have done so). Teaching should be a decision, a career choice, and TFA should encourage that career choice through preparation and encouragement to stay in the ranks. Says I.

eating well vs. having time to grade & do work

I love to cook, don't get me wrong. But damn if it doesn't take a long time! I just finished and it's 9:14 pm. So, do I enter my homework grades in now? Those always make me lazy. Ay, what to do.

a teacher's complaint

How to Ruin Your Classroom Dynamic In One Two Easy Steps:

1. Reschedule two of the loudest loud-mouthed kids from their original period to the quietest, most productive period.
2. Rinse and repeat.

My classroom's been overrun by ridiculousness, and I'm not sure how to stop it. Two students, one who is "bored" because she's "not aloud to do anything" and so loves to talk and talk in the class. She's a rebellious type who's having trouble at home, and can dish out the snide-remarked disses, but can't take 'em herself. The other is an attention-seeker who seeks haven in the rapid-fire comments he makes to each and every single one of his classmates, only to get a laugh or disrupt the flow of the classroom. Thus, the class, who were once leaders, has thudded into the grasp of loudness, disruption, and/or general malaise (in some students). One of my favorite students (honestly, I can't say that I don't have favorites--I love all (read: most) of my students, but this one girl is just a treat to have in class: excited, ready to learn, a leader, if only she'd stop doubting her capability) has lost that smile she always has when she sees me. She hates coming to the class. She lays her head down. She lays her head down.

Now, I don't know what to do. Whether to accept it or make calls home expressing concern about behavior and the animosity that's built between those who were switched into the fourth period, and those who were there to begin with.

This is killing me.