I hate those posts people write after long absenses that start with "I can't believe I haven't written in so long..." so I won't start mine that way. Or did I do that anyway? It is really hard to start after long absences, even though I hate to admit that long absences are sort of a trademark of mine, much to my chagrin.
This morning I figured out that there are about ten "regular" days left, regular 8-period school days. The rest are taken up with trips, graduation, a full PD day, clerical half days (when most of the kids don't come), etc.
I'm surprised that nothing about the 8th grade English Language Arts exam has been in the papers, since apparently the students did not do well. My colleague and I have already been taken to task for our students' lack of growth. My colleague and I sat down once as part of the 8th grade "team" to discuss the results and then I had an individual meeting with Principal for my views on "what went wrong."
Funny, I've been thinking about coming back here to write about this, for my "quasi-annual entry" and I managed, through mostly seething anger, to think about how I could explain how I felt, what I thought, what I thought could be done to improve things for next year. And now that I'm sitting here, I feel defeated, and I don't know if I care that much or even where to begin.
Principal attributed some of my "failure" (my choice of word, but I felt it was implied) to being a new mom, and that was a factor. But I really don't believe that I am alone in the blame. For the first time I'm really getting a feel for one of our challenges: that WE are the ones held fully accountable even though our success relies on other people holding up their responsibilities. I've realized, sadly, that next year I am going to spend a good portion of time devoted to CMA (Covering My Ass.) I am going to document EVERYTHING. And when I say "everything" I mean EVE.RY.TH.I.NG. (Anchorman was crass, but I loved it.) SO:
1) Parent contact: Every time I call a parent, I am going to make a note of it, especially when I call them, leave my cell number so they can call back, and they don't. Why does no one ask the parents what they are doing to support their kids? Why can't they buy their kids notebooks when they have iPods? Why can't they make sure their kids get to school on time?
2) Kids' attendance: Principal asked about one particular student whose score declined, and it took all my restraint not to scream "He fucking misses school at least once a week! What do YOU think is the problem?" Someone also dicks around with our attendance, I've noticed. Kids I have marked absent mysteriously get marked present on the ATS form when I get the next days'. I know who is doing it because I have seen it being done, and I am going to throw a fit if anyone does it next year. So my book does not come close to matching what the school has on record, even though my book is correct. I am angry at myself for not speaking up.
3) Administrative help: When I need or want something from the admins, or the coach, or the lead teacher, I am going to put it ALL in writing and cc Principal. This way my requests can't be downplayed again. And interestingly, my colleague (who is a great teacher) and I have been "demoted" to lower grades for next year. But the lead teacher and coach will still be in the same positions next year.
4) Any interventions I use with specific kids, and how I use the data. We have to keep this ridiculous binder of "data" and I spent the better part of the year putting graded samples in their. Then a week before the Quality (Bullshit) Review, one of the higher-ups said, "Oh, you don't need to put student work in there, you just need to put in your findings." Well, thanks. I'm finding that this place has gone totally into the shitter, and no one really wants to do anything about it. And I've found that this binder nonsense has been shoved down my throat all year, but no one really knows its purpose. Thanks.
Lest I end on a cranky note, some more pics of my reason for putting up (temporarily, I hope) with this nonsense, my reason for everything really: Beany, happy, healthy, totally goofy and my most precious girl.