What Now? Dealing With Intelligence

Every single day we face challenges as teachers. Whether it is a discipline problem or something as simple as what lesson is going to most affectively reach a class, we go home exhausted every day because we are doing our job well. For the past week I have had something plaguing my brain like a tick sucking blood from a dog.  I know, a bit extreme right?  Let me enlighten your brain as to why I am feeling this way.  I start by asking you a question: What do teachers do with a student who is not meeting curricular requirements in school?  Wait…wait, I know what you are going to say.  Sit back, there is more.  The student is a middle schooler who could potentially be starting drivers training within a year.  They have been tested to receive special education services and did NOT qualify.  They are a constant disruption to every classroom they enter.  Said student is not at grade level with reading, writing, or math.  The teachers are in contact with the parents on a weekly basis and everything is documented.  There have been several teacher meeting about this individual to help make this student more successful in everyone’s classroom. So, what is a teacher to do?

When all avenues have been exhausted it is difficult for any teacher not to feel frustrated with the performance of the student.  After all, we want to see our students be successful. I wonder if there are not only other teachers who feel the way I do, but are there other students who fit the same profile?  Retention is always an option that is on the table, but by the time the student graduated he could be twenty-one years old.  Because this individual does not qualify for any type of services, I find myself wondering what more can be done. What drives me bonkers the most is how he disrupts other around him.  Besides a behavior plan, an academic plan can be put into place putting benchmarks before the student to reach, but with no motivation from the student, it proves worthless.  I am not a teacher who is just going to let a student of this caliber slip through the cracks.  Unfortunately, I have seen this before and the student continues to play catch-up for the rest of their school career.

Let’s face it, every year we encounter students who just don’t want to be at school. I don’t claim to be the world’s best teacher, but I work my tail off to make sure my students get the best education possible.  I know I don’t reach every child I come in contact with, but I know if I reach a few, I can feel confident I am doing my job.  Now, I worry about students that I have described.  Our state is coming out with stringent evaluation tools for teachers.  If there is proven growth in my students, my head is on the chopping block.  I can’t help but think low achieving students, who have absolutely no motivation, will affect my evaluation because there isn’t any growth being seen.

I will continue to push forward and do what I can to help any struggling student in my class, but when there is a lack of motivation and intelligence, I need my colleagues, my administration, and my parents for support. I am open to any suggestions.


Middle of the Road and Self Reflection

With the weather outside finally looking frightful, I figured I could do more good writing my blog than spending time outside like I have the last couple of days.

Today was very interesting in a number of different ways. I can’t tell you how much I have been really enjoying our staff meetings this year that are led by our principal. He truly is trying to think outside of the box and make changes in a positive direction. His leadership is excellent and I always feel really good when I leave our meetings.

Today, we first discussed the idea of “tracking” students. What this would mean for our school district is students would be put into classes based on abilities. For instance, higher achieving students would be placed in one class and the lower achieving students would be placed in another class. Though we didn’t place a concrete definition of “low achieving”, the conversation revolved around students who were C, D, and F students. Furthermore, the low achieving students tend to be more chatty, and have difficulty turning in their homework. During the conversation, the term “middle of the road” students reoccured. With the idea of tracking being discussed, curriculum itself would stay the same. However, the higher achieving students would be able to move at a faster pace and essentially do extra “work”. Now, if you think about the lower achieving students, they still need to meet the same standards set by the curriculum. If these lower achieving students are supposed to meet the same standards how are they going to achieve this feat if they are not moving fast and we are tracking them in a lower level class. My counselor put it best when she said we pay so much attention to the lower achieving students and and on occasion we will help higher achieving students reach new heights, but what about the students who are in the “middle of the road” who are not doing well with the curriculum or meeting our expectations? Too me, this is a great question. In reality we need to think about how we approach these two group of students. As my brain was soaking all of this in, I wanted to say we need to stop being selfish and realize we all need to make changes with the way we teach and approach the students. If we open our minds to new ideas, we may have an impact on more of the student population.

The second part of our meeting was about teacher evaluations. The state of Michigan is supposed to have an evaluation piece in place in April. This evaluation piece will let school districts know how teachers are supposed to be evaluated by an administrator. Our principal today shared how he will do non-formal evaluations and it was very intriguing. He found an application for his Ipad and it looks like a very informative assessment tool. I really like what my principal said about having evaluations done. He told us that evaluations are tools for us to help us be better teachers. They are not tools in which to ridicule our teaching style. We need to be able to handle constructive criticism and be able to change things about our teaching to help the students. These past few weeks I have been considering ways I can improve my own teaching. I know I am not reaching every student and I know I need to work on being better organized in certain areas. Furthermore, I need to look at different ways to assess certain standards in the curriculum. I think we need to self evaluate ourselves to be successful in addition to our more formal evaluations. We need to be willing to change what doesn’t work in our classroom. I sense big changes coming for me second semester as I evaluate myself and I sense some heated discussions that will lead to making more of our students reach success.