Saturday, March 8, 2008

New Focus at School

We have definitely been slackers on the blog this week. Well, I have at least. Apparently it was my turn to write, according to Tony. This has been an interesting week. I'm beginning to learn the stresses of the dreaded TAKS test coming up in April at school. This week I lost one of my planning periods to start a TAKS "intervention" or tutorial class. I have two groups that come in during the week. Either Monday & Tuesday or Wednesday & Thursday. I have to re-teach all the stuff we've learned this year so far because some kids don't learn it the first time around and we need them to pass the test in April. A lot of pressure is put on you for something that, in the end, you can't really control. I can teach a kid until I'm blue in the face, but if they don't pay attention in class or do their part to actually try to learn and retain, then I don't know what to tell you. They probably won't pass if that's the case. And I do have some of those types of students and it's difficult to deal with. You question yourself and your abilities, when you can only do so much. BUT, you're still responsible for them and how they do. It's an uphill battle a lot of the times. So needless to say there have been some frustrations and school this week, and I'm sure it'll continue up until TAKS as each day becomes more and more important.

I am working on being positive and up front with the kids because they need to know how important the test and school really are and we don't have time to waste at this point in the year. However, in 6th grade all they are worried about is who they're going to talk to after class or what they are doing after school. It's hard to remember back to being that young and not being worried about the future or something coming up a few months from now. As an adult, you're always looking forward to that next thing coming up. My students think about the next 10 to 30 minutes and not much more than that unless it's something really big. It's hard to relate to that and figure out a way to get them to realize that what they do now or in the near future in school is going to affect their lives. And that's just one of the challenges of teaching middle schoolers!

The next month and a half is going to require more organization, efficiency, and more time after and before school tutoring. Hopefully it pays off in the end!


Gina and Michael said...

Let me tell you that I can feel your pain all the way here in Doha!!! Reading your post just brought back all sorts of memories of my countless days of teaching 7th grade reading in Texas. I have done everything from going to student's houses, to tutoring until 7 at night (pizza was always an incentive) and of course who could forget Super Saturday tutoring! I often challenged my administrators, not that these "bubble" students didn't need a little bit more but that if I couldn't have "fun" during these times, then I wouldn't do it. My students had just gone through 8 hours of learning...TAKS/TAAS tutoring had to be something different.

My advice to you is that you need to take this time to really try to connect with these "bubble" kids. I have had kids who NEVER passed a test since the third grade and promise you they did the year I had them. I am not an amazing teacher, well okay, maybe a little bit of one, but for the first time these students knew that I cared about them, had confidence in them and was there to support them every step of the way!!! I know this may be easier said than done. Many of these kids are soooo hard to get through to, but you can and YOU WILL. I promise you that if it is important to you and if they have the slightest bit of respect for you, which they of course have more than that, they can and if the stars are aligned, THEY WILL! ;-)

afoos said...

I TOTALLY know how you feel. My 6th grade class is basically two halves of two classes put together to make a class. The other two halves form what we call a European class, in other words, a class that has a much higher GPA in general and students that are better off academically.

So, I got the weak half of the class. We have a very low GPA and of course it's all my fault. It's not the fault of the students who just don't participate or write down their lessons or do their homework. When I get evaluated, if the students don't produce perfect sentences in English, it's all because I am not teaching corrrectly, or not teaching at all! I am comforted by the fact that my students' grades correspond more or less to the grades they have in other classes- have you looked to see if that's your case? I like to do that once a trimester to see if I'm on track. Of course, there might be one subject they excel in, but if they don't study in general, you can see it throughout all of their classes.

I hate it that there is so much pressure on teachers to get the students to perform. Every individual is different and we can't make the students mold to a certain standard. I know in my case, there are just some students who cannot understand English and my way of teaching, or the way we are supposed to teach, cannot cater to them. I would even work more during the week to give tutoring to these students, but I know they are unwilling. Such a vicious cycle.

Hang in there!

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