Tuesday, January 15, 2008

manthano : learn

Not a very consistent blogger, am I?

Getting into my second week back at school, back at work, and as always no one day is like the day before. I'm never sure what insulting, insane, dangerous, funny, weird, stupid, brilliant, surprising, disappointing, maddening new tricks my children are going to come up with. Second quarter grades are up and there are disappointments and there are small victories. I find that, though quarter exam grades continue to be disappointing and discouraging, overall I am beginning to see students climb their way up the grade scale. Final grade stats for my first and second quarters are as follows:

1st Quarter: 30 Fs, 10 Ds, 3 Cs, 4 Bs, 2 As (49 Students)
2nd Quarter: 20 Fs, 10 Ds, 10 Cs, 8 Bs, 2 As (50 Students)

From 9 passing to 20 passing? At least two of my students labeled special education went from Fs to a B or C. At least one of my 504 students went from an F to a C. A few Fs raised themselves to Ds. I only have one or two who passed last quarter that did not pass this quarter and the one I know of was only in school for the last two weeks of the 1st quarter so he didn't get a chance to show his true colors before grades. I have a couple of F and D students who I can focus on now, knowing better their weaknesses and knowing who is willing to try and who just fucks around. Looking at these numbers, I finally feel like maybe I'm getting through somewhere, some little bit, even if I can't see it on a day-to-day basis and have to crunch numbers to see it. It should also be noted that Ds are not considered passing at our school as far as I know, though for some of my students I think there should be an exception, as below 75% is considered a D.

I hate to say that as a teacher I would ever pick and choose students to favor, but it is in fact true that I have about 6 students that I really feel that I can help out of the F/D hole with some more effort. I guess that goes back to a phrase that public school teachers unfortunately use a lot in this town (at least in my experience) and I'm sure it comes up in other high needs areas around the world. "You can't save them all," they tell you. And at first you think that for you it will be different but it never is. It's impossible. Kids still fall through the cracks and we can't always find the magic button that gets through to them. It's an impossible task especially as a first year teacher. I am seeing more and more the ways that my current students are disadvantaged by my inexperience, ways I will do it differently next time, ways to do things better. But I've just got to suck it up and take on the things I can take on. So I've got my handful of "project" children--children I think I can help pass 6th grade math with just a little more effort and some different strategies on my part. The others, well, I can do what I can and after that it is mostly up to them and up to their parents to take responsibility. I can only do so much.

I can only do my job. I can't be Wonder Woman.

On a slightly different note, my master teacher shared a surprisingly timely tidbit with me at our meeting yesterday. She told me that she didn't really feel comfortable teaching, didn't really know that it was the job for her, until after her third year. And it was just so comforting to hear that coming from her because she is amazing with the kids. To know that she was uncertain, that she thought about quitting, made it a little easier to think that I can survive this for at least the three years I am committed to surviving. First year is always tough for everybody, and maybe the 2nd year won't be much better, and after that isn't gonna be a magic transformation either, but maybe at least I can hope that I didn't make the wrong choice. It's a slow process, settling into this new teaching skin.

But I made another symbolic step for myself on Saturday. Took myself a little trip to Electric Ladyland and got the complimentary tattoo to the ink I had done in June. Check out Ed - he was completely awesome through the entire process, making this my most fun tattoo ever (and I do love getting inked). I owe him a rollergirl photo.

I teach. I learn.


will said...

Em, I think that that is a great accomplishment, and I think you're doing a fantastic job.

Leigh C. said...

Mazel tov! You are making some strides! You gotta listen to your supportive principal and co-workers a little more, too, methinks...