It has been awhile since I have posted and not because I haven't had quite a bit that is blog worthy. However, I have been tapped out lately and to come home and type it, after living it each day has been too much to even consider.
I'm going to just give a few highlights of the last few weeks--the good, the bad and the ugly that is the rule rather than the exception for most teachers.
I am very sad to report that my dear friend Mr. I has had enough and is leaving to teach middle school next year. I can not blame him, but its a huge loss for me, as well as the school. Never mind the fact that we can spend an entire planning period arguing over who would win in a fight of honey badger versus wolverine--Mr. I has been a great, grounding force in times of stress. My much-adored department chair is leaving as well. Many of our fantastic teachers are joining in the mass exodus and it makes me nervous for next year. A challenging population like our school has, requires the highest quality teachers. How sad that they do not feel appreciated--it is symptomatic of so many, larger issues that it makes my head spin.
An example of this lack of support and appreciation slapped me in the face this week. I have a student who has been nothing but trouble this semester. She has skipped my class, walked out of my class, cheated, been disrespectful, refused to do her work, been defiant, and two weeks ago, told me to shut up, before walking out of my class and slamming the door. What made this situation even more fun was that her mother clearly has no perspective on how out of control her daughter is and held me responsible. This blows my mind. If my daughter did any one of those things, no matter if she "liked" the teacher or not, I would make it clear that her behavior was inexcusable. Anyway, she returned from suspension in no better frame of mind and there was basically an incident daily, culminating in a meeting with the child, her mother and an administrator. It did not go well and I ended up excusing myself after the student let loose on me during the meeting.
I returned to school the next day, feeling very anxious as not only had nothing been resolved, but it had been escalated. I realized that there was no way I could teach this child successfully and to attempt to do so would not only be unbelievably stressful, it would compromise the education of the other students in the class. Once again, let me toot the horn of the NEA (National Education Association). In a moment where I felt that I had no control, my school reps stepped up, let me know that I was not alone and that this would be resolved. Within an hour, I had that student removed from my class. If you are a teacher and have waffled about being a member because of the cost, I assure you it is worth every penny especially in a climate where teachers are increasingly marginalized.
That said, I do have great news about my 10th graders. They did fantastic on their SOLs and it really made the whole year worth it. They didn't just pass, but their scores were really good, with many passing advanced. I was so proud and happy that I went home and called every single parent of the nearly 90% of my students that passed. This was a true team effort and is an example of collaborative teaching at its finest. Overall, our school improved its testing scores by 10%, after dropping 3% last year.
Finally, I have a beautiful update about about David, my student from Honduras who I wrote about previously in my post "The American Dream". Prom is next week and my upper classmen are talking about little else. David has been very excited to participate in this American right of passage. He came to me yesterday, saddened that his date had backed out. Who knows what I was thinking but I said "Well, do you want me to ask my daughter if she is available?" Amazingly, he said yes and even more amazing, my daughter, who is beautiful inside and out, was more than happy to be a part of making this happen for David. When I told David today that she was on board, he was so happy that he hugged me, saying saying that this was his first and last opportunity for prom and he was looking forward to it. My husband and I are going as well to keep an eye on things and I am certain it will be an evening to remember!
There are just four weeks left, friends....then I am going to have to come up with a new name for this blog as I will have officially finished my first year of teaching. Any suggestions?