By the Numbers

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 29 2009

Day 14: “He told me he doesn’t think school is important.”

That was in reference to one of my fourth period all-stars from last year who is now a third period all-star. I’ve heard this same song-and-dance from administrators for two years already. This student is going to change, I believe it. I find it amazing that every new administrator buys into the sweet act from this student. The simple fact is that the student ruins other students’ educations and I have a hard time rationalizing her being in my class, especially now that it’s in a demoted capacity. Not much I can do but hope for this new and improved version to show up at my door 24 hours after her latest singing/talking/doodling/laughing jamboree.

After eighth period, a student who has been trying during the test prep handed me a note. The note was all about how she was afraid she was going to fail because the test prep program is going too fast. She’s not the first student to say this. I’m seeing, for a second straight year, why test prep fails miserably in the inner-city. The program flies through a book with students expected to practice problems on their own (outside of class). The instruction is largely drill-and-skill, which is also frowned upon for inner-city students. This ends on Thursday, I’m just hoping I can put the pieces back together on Friday and for the rest of the year.

I talked to several parents at the end of the day, hoping for some insight on how to get students on track. The best information I got was on a student who just puts his head down as soon as anything gets confusing. His mom tole me that, “He doesn’t think school is important.” I guess I should have known that by now, but to hear that it is actually verbalized by students is frustrating. Now I have to figure out a way to get this student back on track and invest him in school at the same time.

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    Teaching Math on the West Side of Chicago

    High School

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