Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Pondering

I am sitting here, watching my students take their first final.  Their faces are all so serious.  They crammed and prepared and are ready...or are they. We reviewed, I bribed t hem with candy.  Study sessions over lunch and after school...taken advantage of by 6 of my 143 history.  Their values are so different than any other group I have worked with in the better part of two decades and I have absolutely no clue if they are truly prepared.  Or if they care. Or if I am making the slightest bit of difference.

I struggle getting them to write a paragraph, much less an essay.  They struggle expressing themselves properly verbally, much less in a written form.  I feel like I am in a no win situation.  I came in thinking I would have them analyzing historically significant pieces of literature and find myself dragging them through DBQs that we write together. 

My usual 100 question multiple choice is whittled down to 60.  My usual three full essay question exam down to five single paragraph short answer question.  They are working diligently and I hoping they see a glimmer of success.  This is 25% of their grade.  It is HUGE!  And I worry for them.  

My goal is to have them taste success - PASSING A FINAL EXAM!  And want more.  Develop a HUNGER for it.  To see that they CAN INDEED do it and want to move on from here.  Not look back and focus on past failures.  My goal is to make them want success and have them strive to reach it.

And I am nervous...

However, yesterday, I was graciously given a glimmer of hope.

One of my seniors came to me before class, last hour of the day and  nonchalantly  commented, "Don't know how you did in such a short time H, but everybody loves you.  Even kids you don't know."  And then he walked into my class.  Yah!  Uh-huh.  The same kids that are in my face because I am "forcing" it.  The same kid that walk by me day after day on their phones, with their hats on...uh-huh.  The same kids that I am fighting with to bring their book, a binder with paper and something to write with. Uh...okay.

But, clearly he sees something that I don't.  I can't even place the blame on the rose colored glasses of youth.  My boy has seen more than he even knows.  His PTSD has blessedly blocked most of it from being retrieved. 

And I am going to go with it.  I am going to accept that the change is there, even though I am not seeing it.  I am going to trust that I AM making a difference somewhere along this line.  Because this is the time of the year where I need that.  The media is telling me I am failing my kids.  The MAP scores are telling me I am failing my kids.  The kids are telling me I am the worst teacher ever.  Parents are telling me their child had straight As last year, so I am CLEARLY doing something wrong. 

That is hard to take.  

So, back I go to correcting these exams.  Wish me luck.  

The new semester is a fresh start for all of us!  
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