Friday, September 07, 2007


This week school has felt like a battle of wills. Me versus them, the students. Pushing and pulling but no one getting anywhere. I haven't quite found that magic thing to hold over their heads that will make them understand that there are consequences to their actions, that the choices they make are for better or for worse. I realize that it is a process but right now that process is stalled.

It was dress-down day at school today for students who earned it through good behavior. I think we were too lenient in our criteria and it showed. Next week several of my girls are going to realize that they cannot play volleyball or do the dance team because their grades are not up to par. That threat worked a little on some of my kids today. But for my boys I still need an incentive. The amount of issues that I am dealing with right now makes it difficult to list them all. I've got too many students to describe it all in this blog. It exhausts me to even think about it. But I have to push through and update my records. I have to call parents.

Something that has been very frustrating this week overall has been progress reports. Students must have them signed and returned and there is also a space for parents to indicate whether they want a parent conference. More than half of my students are failing or on the borderline, but I only had two or three parents request a conference. Several, despite their child's grade, checked the box indicating that they do not want a conference. Most just left it blank. Is it because the parent is illiterate? Is it because they don't care? They don't have time? Some combination of all of them, I'm sure. But when dress-down day came up and kids were showing up in clothes that were not on the approved list, the phones rang off the hook.

Our principal expressed this very same frustration. For that I am grateful. I've probably said it before but just having him there as back-up is a huge motivator for me. My kids try to use him against me and he always backs me up. He came into my classroom (he does this often whether I ask him to or not) to tell my students a few things today. First, that he was disappointed in their behavior on dress-down day. Second, to say that he doesn't come into my class just to reprimand them but because he likes my lessons, that he wants them to appreciate the good teachers that they have. After all my kids' bitching and moaning that helped my morale a lot. I know that for them it went in one ear and out the other - they are kids. But for me it meant a lot.

Most days I don't feel like I'm being as effective as I need to be. I feel behind and I feel frustrated. But the principal seems to think I'm doing a good job, so that gives me hope. If what I'm doing now is good then hopefully it will be better next semester and better next year and better the year after that. I don't want to be just some teacher. I've never accepted mediocrity from myself and these kids can't afford to have an average teacher. They have to have a superhero. They are already too far behind and have too many disadvantages in their lives for them to have a so-so teacher. I am not that teacher yet, but I'm going to do everything I can to get there.

If I don't lose my marbles first.

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