Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My failures

Today I feel kind of down. I'm not sure where it's stemming from or if it will continue, but I just felt like today was a struggle. I went to bed early last night because I knew I didn't want to be tired throughout the week, so I don't think it was that. I got to school early enough, and I think my students got what I was talking about all day.

I am really struggling with my first hour class. Now, I don't mean that they are out of control or that they don't understand things, but I feel like I am not doing a good job with them. It is my biggest class, and my only class with resource students. Those students range in modifications -- some only needing a calculator on math tests to some who can not read a word on a page.

My problem stems from my fear of leaving some students behind while not pushing other students who want to be pushed as well. In the 11th grade class (besides the AP students) the three highest scoring students on last years test are ALSO in this 1st period class. I can see their boredom immediately sometimes. Their faces are easy to read...and their attitudes are even easier. But, all the while, I have students who need me to repeat three times, write it out, and then individually coach them through different parts of the lesson. So, what am I supposed to do? Some of the "smart" students or high achievers don't push themselves to be this idealistic student...and to me that is the opposite of smart. Whereas these students who are labeled as "dumb" or low achievers are the ones asking questions and offering me some argument.

I forgot the attitude that comes with some of high school. Some have major chips on their shoulders, and others just want to be there and do well. I need to figure out how to harness this into a successful classroom.

I walked away today realizing (after assigning a writing project) that I did too much, too soon. Students could not tell me what a thesis statement was in detail...but I asked them to write a narrative. They didn't know what supporting details were or what a "hook" would be. All of these things were parts of the paper I had them outline by Friday for a grade.

I need to figure out how to balance independent work time and group instruction. I also need to motivate these students who are obviously naturally gifted to want it more and reach higher...BUT I really need to motivate these students who are on the borderline, because those are the ones that need this confidence and understand that they are smart.

Although I know I have mentioned this before, I am still astounded by the assumptions made by students and teachers about students. So many students have said "I don't know, I am resource," "I don't know, I'm dumb/not smart." I have never been in an environment (or at least don't realize that I have) where a student genuinely feels this way. It is a sad moment to hear that and then hear the snickers around the classroom. People think it is okay to say that about another student or even worse, the student thinks its okay to say that about himself/herself. This is something that needs to systematically change...immediately. WHEREVER it is happening, not just the Delta, not just AR, nowhere. Everyone has ability, it is a teachers'/parents'/guardians'/mentors' responsibility to find this and prove it to a student.

Okay, I'll stop. Keep in mind I've only been teaching for a few months now...but hopefully I will ALWAYS be optimistic of my students' ability to achieve. No more negativity, and no more drama. (Save it for yo momma)

1 comment:

  1. I know what you mean about perceptions. I just am in shock when I hear a student say, I can't read, write, etc. And worse when I hear it a teacher say, that one is soooo low! I am working at a school this year that has a population with a much higher need than the school I came from. I had a kindergartner actually cry when I told him he was a reader after he described a picture to me. He did not believe me and said he wanted to go back to class! I had to let him go back for a while before I could take him back and when he finally read a few words on a page, he was so excited I almost cried!
    As for keeping a class with such a learning range going, maybe starting all together and then doing some small flexible groups might help. I think you are doing such a great job just through your entries, you are reaching every kid, it is just harder to see it some days and easier others!