Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Dose of Reality

I know we’re only supposed to write about school (and school-related activities), but I think that your feelings in your personal life tend to have an effect on your performance as a teacher, so here we go…This year has been a roller coaster emotionally, and I think others will agree that it’s hard to bring your “A Game” everyday. If I could do that, it would remind me of the time Michael played one of his best games ever with the flu. Everyday people can’t really do that. You’re supposed to put on your teacher face and leave all of your issues at the door. I had teachers in high school who did that, and now I’m really impressed with them. It’s hard enough being in a new place with a new career, but it seems like trouble somehow comes even when you’re trying your best. I think it’s good that I’m starting fresh in Jackson this fall…hopefully I’ll be little older and a little wiser. To the incoming class, don’t expect to be Superman. Sometimes you have to just be human. There have been days when students could tell from just looking at me that something was wrong. Although they misbehave a lot, you can tell how much they really care at those moments. They are willing to go out of their way to make sure you’re okay. That’s probably one of the best parts of teaching…you always have those students who see you as more than just a teacher. I guess it kind of works both ways though. Last week a boy asked me how to deal with a breakup. He said this was his first time being in love and the girl (who had an abortion, as another student told me) decided she doesn’t want him anymore. Now the boy is thinking of moving to Jackson to go to Piney Woods, but he isn’t sure what he should do. I told him to keep his head up, and understand that since he’s a good guy someone will eventually be there to treat him right. I know my pep talk only half reached him, but I hope that he has enough confidence in himself to know that he deserves only the best. I explained that sometimes bad things happen to good people, and you really can’t do anything about that. It’s a dose of reality, harsh reality, but he’s gonna have to get it somewhere. All I can say is good luck to him and good luck to myself.

State testing

I lost my last blog (computer problems), and I really don’t feel like starting from scratch, so here’s a quick summary of what was going on. Last week we had state testing and I know of several cases of academic dishonesty. I thought about going to the administration about it, but since I didn’t personally see it, I don’t think I really have any hard evidence. I heard several students talking about how they cheated, but it would basically be my word against theirs. Maybe this is bad, but I didn’t come to the Delta to change everything, and I feel like this is probably only the tip of the iceberg. I just wonder how a school has people cheating and is still only a level 3…karma I guess. Anyway, I’ll be interested to see the scores when they come back (last year U.S. history had a 100 percent passage rate—I wonder how many cheated).

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Leaving the Delta

Well, I have just about made it through one year in the Delta...What is the most important discovery that I've made? I've learned that the Mississippi Delta is not for me. Today I attended the Mississippi Teacher Fair (or whatever it's officially called), and I came away with future plans. I decided to leave Simmons High School (Hollandale) for various personal reasons. Most importantly, I decided that I am ready to move to a larger city. To those considering the Delta, you should know that it can be a very depressing place. Each person will make his/her experience what it will be, but I personally feel that I have to get out.
I am excited about my new job (that's right, I was offered a job today) at Wingfield High in Jackson. Although I will be teaching in a portable classroom, the change in setting is definitely worth it. Instead of teaching three subjects (English III, Drama, and Spanish I), I will only be teaching Spanish I.
Of course, there is a small downside to the good news. I will have to tell my principal as soon as possible, but I am a bit worried about the consequences. More specifically, I am worried that if students find out I am leaving, they might try to intentionally cause problems. Oh well, I guess I can't worry about problems that aren't there yet. For right now, I'm enjoying my final weeks and preparing for the move.

Better Classes

Lately, I have noticed that classes are getting better. It seems that students are starting to act more like adults. I try to treat them as adults in hopes that they will live up to my expectations, and it appears that they are finally starting to come around. While I would love to take credit for the change in behavior, one significant factor comes into play...the approaching end of the year. In several weeks, school will be over and students will have two possibilities...pass or fail.
Although students joke around throughout the year, they know that to be left behind is to bring various hardships and frustrations upon themselves. Summer school isn't cheap, so the students are trying to make one final push to get themselves over the bar.
I realize that at the end of the year I will be faced with the task of passing/failing students, and I hope to be as fair as possible. I will do whatever I can to help students prepare for exams, but I cannot and will not give unearned grades. I look forward to the end of the year, but I also expect certain challenges.