Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Teaching with Urgency

Assessments are completed. Our students -- going into ninth grade -- are reading at a 5th grade level on average. They passed barely 30% of their math assessment. Science isn't looking good either.

When we got those numbers, a fellow teacher on my team and I couldn't help but tear up. My tears were mostly from anger. I am so angry that someone let these students pass from grade to grade without mastering the basics -- or even without teaching them the basics in the first place.

It breaks my heart.

Their student surveys also break my heart -- and make me determined to fight with everything I have to help them reach their growth goals this summer.

These students want to be lawyers, nurses, and athletes. And when they asked what they'd do if they won the lottery, the majority of students said things like "I'd pay my mom's medical bills," "I'd buy a house," and "I've give to charity" (often to the homeless).

My students are thinking about huge issues and dealing with things every day that I never had to deal with as an eighth grader. And yet their altruism, even in imaginary circumstances, makes me so proud to be their teacher for a short while.

It also gives me an intense sense of determination and urgency. I have 17 days to push these students to reach not only their tangible growth goals but also tap into their imaginations and learn to see their dreams as a realizable future.

Now, more than ever, do I wish there were 36 or 48 or 60 hours in a day. I need that time!

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... A few thoughts to pass the time...