Friday, November 14, 2014
my husband likes this quilt
Last night I had to take a couple of hours to get some lesson planning straightened out for the rest of the semester. We have 20 days left until the end of the semester and I have things well planned for my 9th grade classes, but my 10th graders are a mess. I'm way off from the rest of the teachers and we have all of our lesson plans in the same computer file. When they did lesson planning last time, they changed the plans and I went in to see what I was supposed to be teaching this week and everything was changed. I've been flying blind this week and figuring out what to teach 5 minutes before class starts. That's a very stressful feeling! Lots of stuff had disappeared from the plans because they are a couple of weeks behind me and so they just deleted things. I decided I had better save my plans somewhere else so they don't get deleted again! Working together has benefits, but also many drawbacks. I tend to teach to the middle/high level students and most teachers teach to the lowest students. They teach much slower than I do and get through curriculum much slower than I do. So at the end of the semester, they are cutting out whole sections of information and then wondering why their kids are missing things on standardized tests. My kids do better on tests because the kids are given all the information they need. I have fewer behavior problems because the top kids aren't bored.
We were given a lecture at a meeting the other day about our D/F rates and our department has a 19% overall average. My class is 10% so I must be doing something right. I'm up for evaluation this year (it's a 3 year cycle) and this year I've decided to do a portfolio where I pick something I'd like to work on and do a self study rather than have an administrator come in for 30 minutes twice and write up what they saw. I figure that would be more beneficial to me and help me focus more on improving my own teaching. So I decided to study why kids are failing and how to help them improve without making me do all the work. I'm looking at the students who are getting the D's and F's in my classes and trying to understand why they are settling for those low grades.
In the short time I've been looking at it, it's interesting to see what is going on. Only a few of them really don't care about their grades. Some just aren't coming to school often enough to know what is going on. By being absent 1-2 days a week, every week, they miss out on enough information to do poorly on the tests but also when they miss a lab day, they don't have any idea what we are talking about. It would be like coming in mid way through a conversation and being expected to pick up and carry on and contribute. Depending on their personality, some kids can do it and some kids can't. The kids who can't are the quiet ones who just sit back and try to blend in. They usually have things going on at home or medical things they are more focused on that are distracting them from what is going on in school.
There is so much help at school for kids with learning disabilities that they usually do well in school. As long as they have been identified by high school, they have special classes where they can get help with their homework and can get special accommodations in class so our special education students only have a 1% D/F rate.
Our highest area of students who are struggling are those in English and Math with 23 and 24% each. We have had a very high turnover in teachers in both of those departments and I'm wondering how the rates in new and veteran teachers compare. I will be talking with an administrator today to see if there is a difference (I've heard stories about some of the new teachers and what they are doing in their classes! Yikes!) and some of the things we can do as veteran teachers to support the new teachers.
What I wanted to do for my portfolio this year-but what what turned down by my administrator-was to look at mentoring new teachers. I really have a heart for helping the newbies. I was a horrible new teacher and really needed a lot of support, which I didn't always get from the veterans. There are so many new teachers that leave the teaching profession before 5 years because it is a really hard job. I think with better support, even after the first two years of mandatory BTSA, more teachers would stay and find out just what a rewarding job teaching can be. I swear I laugh every day.
This should be an interesting study and I hope I am able to share what I learn with the other teachers and make their jobs easier.