Sunday, March 14, 2010

66.67% Complete

My school runs on a trimester system (three terms instead of two), which enables our students to acquire credits faster than they would at a traditional two-semester high school system. The second trimester ends this week and unfortunately, I don't foresee the kind of success I saw at the end of the first trimester.

Their trimester final is scheduled for this upcoming Wednesday. It's weird because for some bizarre reason, I'm not looking forward to it. If I'm the teacher and they're the students, why the hell am I the one who is scared?

I suppose I'm erroneously assuming most students aren't going to study (some will, but it's always the usual suspects). Most of my algebra students aren't in the position to be gambling with their grades at this point. Some of these idiots are seniors with a "he'll pass me, I'm a senior" attitude... I love giving people surprises.

It's kind of depressing because some of the students who are in danger of failing this trimester earned low As and high Bs last trimester. I mean, WTF. My teaching style hasn't changed, the material hasn't really gotten that much more difficult. But, attendance has dipped below 50%. Well then...

I'm constantly conflicted: On one hand, I can empathize with what a lot of what students are going through in their lives. I can convince myself that I need to go a little easy on them. Then again, you should at least come to school right? Or at least contact me to get the low down on what you've missed. Perhaps (oh no, I'm about to say it..) stay after school?  You came to this school because you realized you need to get your shit together. Are you? No.
"Yo Mista, I don't do fractions."
Well I don't do make up work. Take this F and deal with it.


Mr. T said...

Damn right! Make up work is extra work for you, as though you were not busting your ass to begin with!
My principal keep getting on about me giving them "credit recovery" I tell her is they did not make they effort to even come to class the first time why should they be able to do in a weekend what other students spent 2 months doing? Fuck no!

I am also having an attendance problem, though our problem is that the normal 96% is down to 92%. As far as I have heard form other teachers it only gets worse. Right now we are just past the peak of not enough sun, and are simultaneously entering fine weather, this combination does encourage people to wake up in the morning and go sit in a building. Even I thought of playing hooky once to go for a nice long ride (I did not of course, but I thought about it :) )

I am with you on being empathetic, however taking it easy, I don't think, is the answer. If we let their "problems" become an excuse for not doing work, considering these problems will never go away - they don't for anyone, life is hard - then we are building a false sense of accomplishment which will have severely worse effects later on. "you're depressed that your brother is in jail again? find the strength to come to class and make him proud and show him you wont turn out the same way".

Alpha Za said...

If I try to put myself in these kids shoes this is probably why my attitude to school would be so poor.

1. Yo Mista is cool, I don't mind working hard for him for a semester, but yo, I rather be playing ball.

2. I'm not going to college, so whats the point, most teachers will pass me just to get some federal cash and keep their jobs.

3. Economy sucks, I need to be working whilst I'm supposed to be in school.

4. I hate school with all those ppl telling me what to do, My Momma don't tell me what to do.

5. What's the point of an education? The Man makes you go, but why?

Yo Mista said...

@ Mr. T:

How the fuck is your attendance so high???

I really wasn't exaggerating when I said attendance dipped below 50%.

@ Alpha Za:

Love it. Here are my responses (enjoy):

1) You still need to graduate high school to play ball pro. No professional player has ever made it without graduating high school.

2) I'm not most teachers. Even if you're not going to go college, you're still going to need $ to support yourself. You might be able to get a job now that doesn't need a high school diploma, but those are all minimum wage jobs. In order to climb the ladder and earn more, you need more than just experience. Even if you start your own business, all local banks look at your resume before giving you money to grow your business.

3) That's true. Why can't you do both? That's what adults do, and you do want to be treated like one, right?

4) She will once you're 18 and not helping her with rent. Good luck.

5) Then please move to a third world country. You don't have to go to school there. But you will be an outlier as most actually fight to be educated there. You'll feel stupid really fast.

Mr. and Miss When you are really a teacher, you don't have a last name. said...

If we truly empathize with their situations and their life outside of school, we can recognize that there is no life outside of school. By that I mean, we need to teach them that school IS integrated into their life because it is a place that will bring them freedom and power. Most of our students are struggling in one way or another. As an English teacher, in the past 5 years I have heard stories that left me staring, wide-eyed, with nothing else to say but, "Holy _ _ _ _." I've been sought out for advice to situations that i had no answer, suggestion, or words for- dumbstruck. It has made me truly admire them and actually appreciate them for introducing me to this thing I thought I knew about previously: resilience.

Last year, I had a student say in class one day (in response to why he hadn't done any work or been at school for a while) "Miss, I'm having family problems." I knew this already, and believed him. Then I asked the class, how many of you are having "family problems" that you would consider pretty serious right now? We all raised our hands, some more quickly than others.

They know I care about them, because genuine caring is like your grandfather'- it eminates with presence and is undeniable.

My response was as follows: I can't change your family, or anyone elses. I CAN give you a tool that will help you to have more power, options, freedom, and successes in your life, and with that, you can do anything you need to.

Th bottom line- the more problems they are having- the more they need to work now, when they are still young and surrounded by a handful (or even ONE) adult that devotes his/her life to help them.


Spoon pens are coming back. rentals will cost one quarter.

Yo Mista said...

@ Mr and Miss...

I love it - we really need to get the students to realize they all come from similar backgrounds and so did we.

The sooner we can make our school a "home" rather than an institution, the more our students will take advantage of everything we have to offer.