I’ve been teaching for a bit now. Over 5 years isn’t enough to call myself a veteran teacher, or a master teacher, or any of the other wonderful titles they give to the battle worn people who continue to do this job. But it is long enough to know when something’s not quite right.
One of my students (from before the move) came to visit me last week to tell me goodbye… because he was dropping out… because an administrator asked him why he hadn’t quit school yet.
Wait… What?! Surely that can’t be correct. Surely an administrator, an assistant principal whose job depends on this school staying open, wouldn’t try to convince a kid to leave for no reason. Surely we haven’t gotten so locked into test scores that the fact that he hasn’t passed yet would be reason enough to try to push a kid out. Have we learned nothing from Pump Up the Volume?
Is that movie really almost 25 years old?!
I understand the need for the testing, I really do. We want to make sure that everyone is on an equal footing, but we’ve been lowering the bar to ensure everyone was equal for so long that now the kids don’t know how to think for themselves.
Nor do they seem to want to. Coming down from, or probably actually rising up from the realization that I’ve been losing my battle with seasonal depression (aka Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD), I may just be a wee bit cynical. Today when I arrived at the school, I felt like I could be successful. I could walk in there and teach my heart out and these kids would listen. I believed that they wanted to learn, to better themselves same as the other people in my life (the boy keeps telling me he’s working on making himself better, as do several other people I know).
I should have known better.
With the new one-to-one initiative, or Power Up, or whatever goofy name they’re calling it this cycle, the kids have access to all the brilliance that could be found on the internet, and instead they play pool. Somehow the skill required for pool seems lessened when playing with pixilated balls. I lost at least 45 minutes of instructional time in each class today trying to keep them off this silly game. That and some sort of hide and seek with pixilated tanks…
The assignment was to make a comic strip using all the elements of a story (ESL, remember… Pictures to show understanding and then an essay). The story was supposed to be roughly based on Cinderella. They have a program in Edmodo that they can work with… This should have been a fun assignment.
Instead, I walked back and forth from computer to computer turning off games and slowly losing my temper.
After a successful weekend of cleaning and getting my life in order, I had expected a wonderful day, and instead was ready to give up before noon. Way before noon…
So I get it, I do. When a student seems to be a lost cause, I understand the desire to politely convince him to leave. We’re supposed to be catering to the ones who want to learn and help them be successful, not hold the hands of kids who don’t want to even be there. But aren’t we supposed to not give up on these kids?
I can’t decide if I’m more frustrated with my students, or the people who run the school…
Somebody tell me it gets better.