75%, did I pass?

We finished the third quarter of the school year today. Forty-five days left until summer vacation. I'm finally reading the Homework Myth, and pondering my next steps. This week I listened to a podcast called the Math Factor (many apologies for no link love here, I'm typing on my Touchpad and it sucks at copy paste. Just google it.), where they discussed Teach for America's findings on what makes a good teacher. It's a bit dated, from a report that came out sometime in 2010, but the gist of the discussion was that good teachers....effective teachers....are constantly reinventing themselves. I have that kind of restlessness in my teaching. I've heard a lot of teachers around my building start talking about "next year" and how they'll do things differently, better, etc.

I don't think that way. I think what can I do better next week. I think about getting better tomorrow. Heck, I teach the same course several times a day, so often I end up tweaking the lesson throughout the day. I mean, what's the point in teaching a mediocre lesson to everybody just to keep things equitable? I wonder if my 8th period gets the best version of everything, or if they're just a smarter bunch of kids, but that class does have the most interesting commentary.

I'm a bell-to-bell kind of teacher, trying to squeeze every last minute of instruction and learning out of the 42 precious minutes I'm given. Sometimes I steal from the in-between class time...and post a brainteaser on the board, or start a video before the bell rings. But I've been thinking lately about that pace. It exhausts me. What would happen if I slowed down? If I waited more?

The apathy is what kills me. So many of my students are satisfied with the 64%, our lowest passing grade. I should respect their autonomy, but it annoys me that they won't tell me what they're hungry for. I don't care if it's not math. I just want it to be something.

I made it through 75% of the year, so did I pass? Can I just show up and get credit for it?


Laurel told me she wants to go to school with me. (She wants to do everything with me right now.) She said, "your students think I'm great. They think I'm cute." And then she hung a compass on a lanyard around her neck and said "I'm a teacher. This is my ID badge." I wonder what she thinks my school is like....she probably pictures a lot of cut & paste and frequent snacks. Naptime and getting cuddled by the teacher if you skin your knee or somebody snatches a toy off of you. What would high school be like if we operated like that?

Spring break starts today, and I'm off for 6 glorious days. Of course, grades and IEP progress monitoring are due immediately upon our return, so I'll still have to work a bit. But at least I won't have to hear any complaints about math.

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