- Got more sleep
- Finished reading One Hundred Years of Solitude (Also, after a friend asked if I understood it, I scanned the wikipedia article and took the Sparknotes quiz. I didn't get a perfect score but 88% isn't bad for a "whatever I get out of it" read.)
- Tried a new tofu recipe for lunch. (Hot lunch that I want to eat on a weekday. Luxury indeed.)
- Half-watched LOTR: The Two Towers
- Took time to go through links and check out some new blogs (because there wasn't enough new material coming in through the reader)
- Read the early posts of teachers who have made it past the few years to reassure myself that you felt like miserable teachers at one point too
- Baked pizza for dinner
- Attempted to build snowman
- Read up on fractions in Elementary School Mathematics: Teaching Developmentally by John Van de Walle (suggested by Dan, who I still owe a huge THANK YOU for talking with me in January)
- E-mailed my principal my plan of study for the year
Monday, March 31, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Students have become so burnt-out taking the tests that they no longer care how well they score on them.
Perceptive as always, C--- recognized that he had missed a slew of problems not because he didn’t understand the concept but because he didn’t know “the words,” the specific language of the specific questions of this test.
How's this for a classic example of tests written to favor middle class suburban students:"The city council is considering an ordinance banning cycling on all sidewalks. Consider the effects such an ordinance would have, and decide whether you support or oppose the measure. Then, write an essay in which you express and support your opinion on the issue."
What??? Some of my students have probably never SEEN a sidewalk! And kids around here do not have/ride bikes.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Before classes begin, our school drum group sings the Flag Song in the commons area. Students aren't allowed back to the classrooms until the Flag Song is over, meaning that it's a good chance to get a sense of who is present any day. Today the other schools in the area have the day off.
When Flag Song began, I counted 32 students. That's right. Total attendance at my school appeared to be smaller than some of the overcrowded classrooms some of you are teaching.
Somehow, my actual classes have had better than average attendance. Apparently looks can be deceiving.
Friday, March 21, 2008
I'm glad I did.
Yesterday, we spoke briefly about his poetry. I asked him to bring in a piece to share. Today we were one-on-one, so we just talked. He performed his piece, which was an amazing moment for me. It gave me a chance to hear his perspective, to better understand where he is coming from. He's a pretty good writer, especially when I remember what his education has been.
At some point, the conversation turned to his plans post graduation. (I might have pushed it there.) I could envision him sitting around the cafeteria discussing philosophy, politics, religion, and whatever; having the courage to give his perspective during lectures; hanging out late at night; just being that voice from such a different life than his classmates. I can even see him finding his way to bring it back here.
I think it was the first time that I really saw any of my stuents succeeding at any college, not just one of the smaller, more local ones that caters to them. I could tell that he would have the courage to ask for help, a confidence that I lack for other students.
It makes me proud of him. I haven't fully learned his back story, but I think he spent time in JDC. I am almost positive he's been a trouble student in the past. He never expected to come this far. His poem included the line, "I never expected to live this long." And I'm sitting here dreaming of how far he can go.
I'm frustrated that the system has failed him. He has a brilliant mind, but his education is roughly at the same level as the middle schoolers that end up attending the colleges where I want to send him. I'm sure my visions of college are skewed by my own experience. I feel like he's best prepared for a community college or technical school, but wish I could send him somewhere like Middlebury. (Which both my sister and my cousin strongly considered last year.)
He's not always a stellar student. Mostly it's because he's absent so much, not because he's not capable. In some ways, taking the time to connect with him may be better for his math grade in the long run--who knows, maybe having a stronger relationship with me will help him come to school more. In every way I'm grateful that I have this student who is willing to share so much and help inspire me.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
But I'm so relieved when it does.
F stayed afterschool today for tutoring. We've been struggling all year. He, more than any other student, is in a class way above his current knowledge. A few weeks ago, there was a breakthough. I realize how my expectations for students aren't really where they should be when I expect so much more now.
After school, it was a lot of drill practice. Not the fun stuff that I like. But getting the material again and again helps. And finding the right balance is a trick I haven't mastered yet.