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!