Four classes. Still trying to figure out their personalities. Strangely, I know all names in my core 2, but NOT my homeroom. Guess I’m too busy with paperwork junk to know my own kids. I hate that.
I was talking to my husband tonight about my classes (Math II kids–8th graders taking 9th or 10th grade math and standard Math 8 kids.) I strive to challenge the top in those Math II classes and I always get incredible growth out of the kids who were previously underperforming in those classes. In my Math 8 classes, I teach to the bottom of the pack. (WHY??!!) I take the Truman stance — “the buck stops here.” They are NOT going to high school not being able to multiply, divide and ‘do” fractions. That comes before functions, exponents and transformations. I will not let them not learn the basics–again.
Growth in the Math 8 classes is mixed. Growth is amazing for those who finally decide to work. It’s acceptable for the higher kids in that class. Too many lower kids eventually end up hating me or math and I swear, they intentionally get 1’s on their end of grade tests. (They know way more than they perform.) Do they hate me for making them work; for having high expectations; for expecting them to do SOMETHING? I really think that I may be the first person that ever believed they could succeed. And yet…
Here’s where I need serious feedback. Should I treat my Math 8 kids as I do my Math II kids and move on? I think not. This is the class the state requires them to pass–AND they need to become true problem solvers. (I want both my brain surgeon and my mechanic to be good at solving problems!) I feel so responsible for the lower kids that I ache (aka cry) every day. When I focus on them, the rest of the class goes Bat Crazy. Everyday I feel like a bad teacher.
I REALLY like these kids, yet I feel like I’m not reaching them. I do my seating chart so the neediest kids are closest to me so I can support them. I’m keeping school. I’m not teaching and my kids aren’t learning and I feel like a failure. Just as bad, the higher kids are getting nothing–or at least very little. Behaviors are such that I can’t set up individualized lessons on tablets that the higher kids can get while I work with the kids that need remediation. All 32 kids need constant attention and supervision. Again, I feel like a failure. I’ve been doing this ten years and I can’t figure this out.
When I think back about when I first taught algebra to kids who weren’t ready, I approached it as if they were fully qualified for algebra because I didn’t know any better. (I do remember stupid-Steven my first naive year. Steven didn’t get it. I announced to Steven that I would “not leave him behind” when he didn’t get it. Best I recall, he got a fare bit.) I suppose I didn’t notice that other students didn’t get it. Amazingly enough, lower kids grew like crazy. I was too new to know they were low so I didn’t teach them that way. Now I know too much? Is that it?
I also think kids are different now than ten years ago when I started. There wasn’t the constant instant gratification of social media. That’s a lot to compete with. I own Math II. Math 8 is seriously troubling.
Sad thing is these are the kids that need the most.