Saturday, June 25, 2011

Be careful what you wish for

Last year I used to tell myself that if I could survive my class, I could survive any class.  Which just goes to prove that you should be careful what you claim to be able to withstand, because "any class" could be coming sooner than you think.

Last June, at the end of a rough school year, I was able to look back at the year with a sense of relief and even pride.  Despite some very difficult challenges and a huge lack of support from my administration, I could say with certainty that my students were leaving second grade knowing more than when they came in.  I was reasonably sure that 100% of them were prepared to be third graders.

This year, I'm disappointed to report, I don't feel the same way.  Three of my students failed the ELA exam (two of them have IEPs with modified promotional criteria; the third will be promoted via his promotional portfolio).  Too many of my students moved too few reading levels, or haven't yet mastered their multiplication tables, or are writing the same kinds of pieces they were when they arrived in September.  (I nearly cried when I compared their June '11 on demand writing with their September '10 on demand writing.)

I could give you hundreds of excuses that put the blame on them: they didn't do their homework! They're not reading! But I categorically refuse to do this.  The truth hurts: It was a tough year, on the heels of another tough year, and I didn't do as much as I could have or should have to make sure the message went through.

And so I've made a promise to myself: Next year will be better.  And it won't be because I have a better class (although I've been told over and over how amazing next year's third graders are); it will be because I plan to spend at least some of my summer vacation really planning thoughtfully for next year.

Next year will be better.  At this point, it has to be!

7 comments:

Jette said...

beer helps.
Sometimes childhood growth cannot be measured by on demands. If they leave you smiling tomorrow...then you did a great job:)

Anonymous said...

I can totally relate. Had probably my most difficult class ever this year and I could blame them but I choose to take responsibility for not handling this class well and in order not to have a repeat of this year next year I too am going to be planning thoughtfully. Thanks for making me realize I am not alone!

Underground Teacher said...

I teach middle school, and had one year that was rougher than all others. These kids were smart, but they were mean. Really, really mean. I questioned myself as a teacher and thought of myself as a failure. The following year, those kids were awesome. I don't know if they were just that awesome and pleasant to be around or if the previous group of kids was so horrible that all classes are a delight in comparison.

With all of the things teachers do in the classroom, they take anything less than successful as a failure.

Teachers do a lot, but, sometimes we have to accept the group of kids that came our way.

Ashley C. said...

My second year teaching made me question everything I valued in life, including my dedication to this profession. I made the exact same commitment that you have just made: the next year would be better. And it was. We just found out that our school made AYP for the first time in over six years, and I know that my students were a huge part of that.

Keep your dedication to having a better year. Now that you know how to manage the students, you can focus on teaching the curriculum effectively. You can do it!

ruben_b said...

Thank you for your honesty and all your hard work this year! I know I feel similarly about this year, with several of my students failing the ELA and the math. Enjoy your summer, get some much-deserved R&R and I'm sure you'll be ready to kick @$$ next year!

On a brief, more serious note, do you have any idea what you would have done differently this year if you could change something?

Effets Secondaires said...

Recent events in my life has really tought me that you definitely want to be careful what you wish for..

Lust & Love said...

Nice share & nice blog..