Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 08 2011

High Stakes Detachment

Tomorrow is not a teaching day. Monday starts AIMS. This means that class today was the last thing I can do before testing starts. It’s now out of my hands.

I’m nowhere near as stressed about AIMS as last year. I’m also nowhere near as relieved to be done preparing. The end of the year completely snuck up on me and there’s nothing in me that feels as though we should be this far along already. I know the test is coming, but I don’t really feel it… which is strange, because I think last year at this time I was having trouble sleeping already. (Maybe it’ll hit this weekend?)

I think part of my distance from the testing stress actually comes from my experience with Benchmark scores last quarter. I felt as though I’d put everything I had into the unit, my kids had worked equally hard on their ends, and it should have gone well. Instead, test scores came back perfectly average and lower than my scores last year, when everything went so much worse every day. I reached out to everyone I could think of for help, including people at my school, my District, and Teach For America. I told them the situation and asked what I should do differently, and all I got from everyone was, “Don’t worry so much about it. It was probably [insert some excuse that doesn’t involve me]. You’re doing a great job.”

I genuinely appreciate kind words and the fact that all these people were most certainly just trying to help me get over my intense disappointment and frustration. Still, this was among the least productive things they could have told me. I can take constructive criticism, and I was desperately looking to put my energy towards improving. Yet if you tell me it’s not my fault and I don’t need to do anything, whose fault does it become? The kids? Their circumstances? The test? The school? None of those are things I can control. If it’s their fault instead of mine, then all the work I put into my classroom starts to seem irrelevant. Why would they all tell me that?

Don’t worry, when the test scores come out badly I’ll absolutely put the blame on myself and wallow in misery and discouragement for awhile. But (I know this is bad, and I’m sorry) I still haven’t been able to shake the feeling lately that low scores were inevitable. I tried a bunch of changes on my own this quarter, but none of them were very effective and most ended up being short-lived. Logic says that if my last teaching methods weren’t leading to growth, then my current basically-identical teaching methods aren’t going to lead to growth either. I’ve worked just as hard as always, but apparently that’s nowhere near good enough. It’s like I’ve given up on the test already and it hasn’t even started yet.

I’m going to need a great classroom re-vamp over the summer so I don’t keep feeling like this forever.

One Response

  1. 57.688824

    How many lives has the knowledge of algebraic equations impacted students in the last few weeks? Maybe a lot… Maybe a little…

    How much has your instillation of work ethic, pride and respect impacted their lives? A lot. I know.

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