Saturday, May 27, 2006

i feel like i was grounded.

i am aware that it's been ten days. i haven't abandoned this blog, but it's the end of the school year. all of you know what that means...grading, cleaning, and just tying up general loose ends.

all but one of of my little delinquents earned an "a" or "b". the one who didn't chose not to turn in a major project just to be a pain.

i'm already starting to plan for next year. i want to be on top of the game...ready to go come august.

i'm sure i have stories from the hiatus i took, but for the life of me, i can't think of any. my mind is gone.


Ms. H said...

Is school out for you, yet? Or do you still have to do final exams?

Dennis Fermoyle said...

I hate it when I'm finding something difficult, and another teacher says to me, "Oh, I have no problem with that." I'm sorry AT, but that's exactly what I'm going to do. The end of the year is the easiest time for me.

But there are a couple of reasons why the end of the year is so much harder for you than it is for me. First of all, this is your first year, and it's my 32nd. Trust me--after a while you learn to structure things to make them more manageable. I learned to do that, and so will you.

The second difference is that I teach high school, and I set up my classes so that any student who makes an honest effort will probably do quite well, but the kids who don't try won't even come close to passing. By the second half of the year, some of my most apathetic kids have figured out that they're not going to make it in my classes, so they ask to be sent to our Alternative Learning Center. Sometimes these are kids who behave poorly, and to be honest, I'm never sorry to see them go. I know that it is politcally incorrect to say this, but getting rid of just a few kids who don't try and don't behave really helps because the classes become better, the students who remain start learning more, teaching becomes more manageable for me, and the chemistry of the classes gets better and better. Usually, as the year goes on, my classes and I like each other more and more.

Although I enjoy the time away from school, and summer months are great for planning for the next year, I'm not that excited anymore to see the school year end. One reason is that things get easier, as I just explained, but another reason is that I hate the beginning of the school year. I know that's only three months away, and I also know those three months are going to go flying by in a hurry. After all, time flies when you're having fun, but also when you're gettin' old.

Ms. H said...

Yes, AT, we have been going about it all wrong. Rather than investing our hearts and souls into not only the education of these children, but also their souls...we should figure out how to run them off so our job gets easier as our class dynamics improve over the course of the year.
I'm sorry...but I don't remember taking any classes in college that told me running kids off was the secret to being a successful teacher. I also don't remember them telling me it would be easy.
I always thought if it was easy, that meant I wasn't doing my job....which is educating ALL of the kids. Especially the ones who appear to be apathetic and/or behavior problems. My experience (and I've been in the education field 12 years) has been that the "problem" kids are exactly who I'm here to teach. It's these kids that will be the difference in our society...better to have reached them in grades K-12 than to finance their lifelong lodging in a maximum security prison.

I truly hope that I never become as jaded as public education's self-proclaimed "defender". Keep fighting the good fight, AT, it's worth it.

Dennis Fermoyle said...

Ms. H, saying that you will learn to structure things at the end of the year to make things more manageable for yourself is hardly telling someone that they've been "going about it all wrong."

I would challenge anyone to find any student I've had, any parent who knows me, or any teacher I've worked with who would describe me as "jaded" in the job I do. Obviously, we have different philosophies, but I'm not going to describe yours as evil in some way, and if you worked with me, I don't think you'd describe mine that way, either. You believe you need to reach every student, and I admire your effort to do that. I'm sorry, but I don't think that's practical, and I'm afraid that when we try to do that, we're hurting kids who are truly interested in getting an education. I also believe that at the high school level, when we try to hang on to kids who have absolutely no interest in getting educated, that they sometimes influence other kids to adopt their self-destructive ways. In other words, instead of losing just one, we end up losing two, or three, or four.

I believe public education is about giving opportunities to kids. I try to set my class up in such a way so that every student can be successful. I've never been more proud than when a young man who was classified as EMH earned a straight A by scoring 98 percent on a rather long American history final I gave to a basic class a few years ago.

But while I want every kid to have the opportunity to be successful, I can't MAKE them choose to do that. I can encourage them, I can try to motivate them, and I can do everything I can to make my class as interesting as possible. I'll talk to the kids, I'll send letters home to the parents, and I'll meet with them. Sometimes it works. I've had students fail the first quarter, make the decision to start trying, and end up getting Bs later in the year. But I've also had my share of students who never decided to make that effort. When that happens, I'm sorry, but I'm not going to pass them. And when those students head for our ALC, it does make their classes better, and it does make things easier for me, and I'm not going to apologize for that either. They've made a choice--I don't think it's the best one--but I'm going to respect it.

Regarding your shot about "public education's self-proclaimed defender": I called my blogsite that because I wrote a book defending public education. Believe me, I don't see myself as superior to other teachers in any way. You and I have very different approaches, but I wouldn't ever presume to tell you that you need to do things my way. If after twelve years, you honestly believe you can reach every kid, and if you're having success at that, I've got nothing but admiration for you. Any teacher who tries their hardest at their job, like you do, and believe it or not, like I do is a public education defender.

elementaryhistoryteacher said...

Anonymous, I'm with you. I usually spend my summer planning and trying to come up with a "better" way of doing things. Though as each year goes by I learn to take more "me" time just to do something trivial as well. Our post planning is tomorrow and Tuesday. I have already made a list of things to do.

the anonymous teacher said...

i've missed the comment boat on this one with end-of-the-year busy work.

i didn't really elaborate on why i was so busy, but i think instead of doing it in a comment, i'll make a new post.

as for teaching philosophies...nearly everytime i say this, i get called an idealistic first-year...but i'm going to say it anyway. (and i'd like to also say that i'm not saying the way you do this is wrong, dennis. i'm just sharing my views). actually...i lied. i'm going to make this a blogpost as well...two for the price of one...