Friday, March 16, 2012

A New Hope (Maybe)

During the last three months, I haven't been as happy as I normally am on the job.

I attribute this unhappiness to a variety of factors. Lack of proper school leadership and management is definitely number one. A low teacher morale is another, probably because of the politics that are currently in play. And finally, the icing on the cake: the lack of effort to put forth a solution to our school's attendance problem. At this point, I'm sure even you, the reader, is sick of me whining, bitching, and moaning about attendance. This country's lack of logic in terms of education is bad enough, but then to have to come to school the next morning and deal with having no students show up for your first and last classes of the day? That's too much.

A silver lining presented itself recently in the form of new recruits. I don't know what the fuck happened, but my school somehow managed to recruit some pretty intelligent and motivated students for the trimester. In fact, during one of my Algebra classes this week, one of these new students raised his hand and asked, "So is this class Algebra 2/Trigonometry or more advanced than that? I ask cuz I like, need to retake the Algebra 2/Trig Regents again. I didn't get a good enough score the first time, but I did pass my Algebra and Geometry Regents." Who are you kid, and where have you been?

"Uh... buddy. This is Algebra 1. Like, 9th grade Algebra. You're talking about an 11th grade mathematics course. We don't offer math higher than 10th grade Geometry at this school. The only reason you're in my class right now is probably because you missed one term of Algebra 1 somehow, somewhere. You really shouldn't be in this class...Wait, why are you in this school again..?" I asked - dumbfounded.

"Well, I dropped out of school for a while to go skateboarding in Germany."

"Oh. Well, okay. That makes sense. But, cool."

Could these new kids provide me with the hope I so desperately need to carry me into summer? I'm cautious about being optimistic here because I've seen how kids (both new and old) in my school can quickly transform from motivated, straight-A students to frequent cutters, no-shows, wake-and-bakes, and dropouts.

It's incredibly depressing, but that's what happens when you lump a bunch of kids with bad habits together in the same building without a proper attendance strategy: you can't change them. They tempt each other. We have students on our rosters who are in their third year of this school. This school is a two-year transfer school. Some of them are going to hit the age of 21 soon and get aged out of the system. We've also got kids who accumulated more credits in their old school than they have at this school. We've also got kids who come to school stoned out of their minds on a daily basis. And let's not forget the kids who have gotten pregnant more than once during their stay within our school.

"Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are."

I don't know who said this (Google it), but this statement couldn't be any more accurate at my school. That's why I've been telling all of the new kids to try to stick together. Don't mingle too much with the others. Stay together. Motivate each other. It seems as if giving up on school is an infectious bacteria with an alarming growth rate when surrounded by others with the same infection. We need to nip this problem in the bud before the new kids start to disappear.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think I know who you're talking about. Yes, let's keep these newbies motivated and achieving!

Amna K said...

Had I been your student, you would've been a happier teacher. I hated coming to college to find out that the class for which I woke up at 6am is not taking place because the teacher hadn't shown up. And it was not only for the morning or late afternoon classes, I think it accounted for almost any time of the day. While the other cheered, my friends and I cursed under our breaths. Hence, we were the 'hated ones'.

Yo Mista said...

@ Amna:

Thanks for your comment. I understand how difficult it must be to be among the few who might actually care about their education and future. There's always a few students like that in my classes, but it is very hard to stay motivated (for them and me) when only 2 students out of 30 show...

Yo Mista said...

Teacher Survey Shows Morale Is at a Low Point

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/08/education/teacher-morale-sinks-survey-results-show.html?_r=1&ref=education

Amna K said...

It is very hard to keep up the morale. Generally even, teaching as a profession requires a hell lot of patience more than anything else. I'm sure you're aware of that. But if it makes you feel any better, I think you'll turn out to be a great parent. I know that we're biologically designed to love our parents and children, but doing that out of choice is great. And you might just have a good chance of getting that.
I'm in the thinking process of applying for a Teach for Pakistan fellowship myself. Let's see how it goes for me.

Yo Mista said...

@ Amna K:

Haha, I don't know. I'm worried that I may be a totally different parent... as in not as "cool" as the teacher I am perceived to be.

It's great to hear that you're thinking about TFP. I've been conflicted about moving to KHI long-term and if that happens, I will definitely be knocking on their door.

Thanks again for your readership :)