Saturday, April 05, 2008

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

I love the kids at Moonbat, but teaching them is HAARRRRRD.

Problem #1: They are not sufficiently prepared for high school English. This is difficult, because English is cumulative. The kids mostly don't know how to use an apostrophe correctly. They cannot spell. They tend to forget to capitalize the word 'i'. Stuff like that. They also tend to write as though they are texting. (WTF? IDK.) They are poor readers. The average among them is about ready for the sixth grade. Don't you DARE start talking about differentiation and tiered assignments. It's just dang hard to teach the CALIFORNIA STATE STANDARDS (reverential music here), when the kids have skills several years behind grade level.

Problem #2: The kids are not interested, for the most part, in catching up. They refuse to read outside of class, either out of fear or disinterest. They don't do homework, and many don't do classwork. They talk in class--I mean they have loud, conversations in class while I am at the blackboard lecturing, and then express anger when they are sent out of the room. When we discuss the poor grades they're getting with them, they become combative and tell us that if we were better teachers this wouldn't be happening.

Problem #3: The administration keeps trying to find ways to deal with this. For a while, it was school policy that every time a kid didn't hand in a homework assignment, you called the parents. That night. I have fifty-seven kids I work with on a daily basis. That could mean anything from fifteen to thirty calls a night. The administration offered to help, but that hardly seemed like the POINT to me. I know we're supposed to be willing to go the extra mile to help our students succeed, but this seems to me like the extra MARATHON. Now we have a new policy, where we just have to call the parents in our homeroom every week. Now this is only twenty calls, but we're supposed to get the parent on the phone--no just leaving a quick message--and go over all grades in all classes.

I have to have mine done by Tuesday. It's Shabbos, and I've made contact with ONE parent. Of course, one night we had a school board meeting until eight, and the next we had a staff meeting until six thirty, and I actually have a home, and then I had food poisoning. No matter. I am letting the side down.

The homework is online. The grades are online. The ed director says we have to act like parents to the kids. They HAVE parents. I am fed up.

Problem #4: The administrations keeps trying to help me, but they don't want to let me teach the way I think I need to here. They keep telling me to teach to a high standard, and the kids keep failing, and I don't agree exactly that this is the way to do it.

So I wonder--do I really want to do this next year? Why would I? Well...

#1: I love the kids. And they need help, they really do. The kids at Moonbat are a weird bunch. They brag on being from the ghetto, but for the most part, they're from struggling middle-class families, with employed parents and money for designer jeans, iPods, fancy cell phones, trendy shoes and the like. Most of them aren't old enough to work for this stuff either, it's bought by family members for them. But they don't have much ambition at all, they're materialistic without having a clear idea how you get money for such things. They don't know what they need to do to survive. They don't have a broad cultural perspective--the world consists of teen culture, and nothing beyond. The best story I heard was from another teacher who has been organizing a career fair. She was going over how you dress for an interview:

SHE: So how will you dress when you go to this interview you've lined up?
KID: I'm gonna wear my Gaultiers, and my new Nikes.
SHE: Think again. You don't wear jeans and running shoes to an interview.
KID: They can't tell me how to dress!
SHE: No, they can't, but you won't get the job.
KID: Oh yes I will! (Tosses head.)

They need to learn to succeed. THey need to learn to live in the real world, not the one on MySpace. And I would love to see them do that, because they really are so darn cute and smart and worthwhile when they bother.

#2: Less amazing, but real. I don't want to job hunt again. I really, truly, OMG, do not want to job hunt and start over at a whole new place again. It's too hard. I want some stability. I'm turning thirty-five. I'm sick of starting over, and starting over...

#3: I want to see the school succeed. I really do. I want to see it grow and flourish, and turn into what we all envisioned at the beginning of the year--or at least something else worth the struggle we've put into it.

So, what to do?

IF I teach English again, it needs to be tiered in the way that the math program has been. We need to test the kids on basics, and if they don't pass, they go into Save-Your-Tuchis English 101. Lots of grammar, vocab, spelling, short stories.

I would prefer not to teach English. I could teach history OK. They don't get that either, but it's less amorphous and the standards are less based on previous accomplishement. (You can teach a lesson on the causes of World War Two even if they didn't understand about the city-states of Greece, for example.)

There might be an opening to teach a study skills class. I could do that.

I'm also going to apply for a few jobs, and see what happens.

I'm so tired, and so stressed, and my stupid credential needs clearing.


No comments: