Yesterday I wrote my “goals” for the year. We were expected to explain in detail what we wanted to accomplish with our students this year, including specifics about scores, and how much we were going to raise them.
I really, really thought about writing something snarky because I don’t think anyone’s going to read it. In June we had to write year-end reflections, and I wrote some pretty scathing things. Well, maybe scathing is an exaggeration, but I’m a reforming wimp, so it took a lot to make some of those comments. Nothing was ever said to me. So I was thinking about writing, “My goal is to make better use of time. This means that I will discard anything that remotely reeks of bullshit, like ‘my goals for the year.’”
So, I decided to be professional. But committing to raising scores in any measureable way is not something I feel comfortable with even though it was strongly suggested that we do just that. There’s no way I was going to write something like “My goal is to raise each student’s ELA scale score by ten percent” or “I will move all the Level 2 students to Level 3 and maintain all Level 3s or move them to Level 4.” In my mind, I DO aspire to these things for my students. But in the current climate I’d have to be an absolute moron to put in writing anything that could be held against me later on. I decided to aim for having all the kids read 25 books by the end of the school year because there is a more tangible result, one that the kids can see month to month. And it’s something feasible for me too.
Actually, I did resort to a teeny, subtle bit of snark. I explained that my goal was feasible because it was one that I could accomplish with the students, but without additional support. My other justification for not committing to anything score-related has to do with the help, or lack of, that I've had in the past. Last year I asked for support on several occasions, and got nothing except criticism about the lack of increase in the scores at the end of the year. Relevant, useful, professional support is really lacking, so I have to plan on really being alone in this. Most of the meetings we have seem to center on materials and what we're doing to assess the kids. Assess up the ass, that's our motto.
Improving the scores is going to get harder tomorrow anyway. It seems that my lovely small classes will no longer be. I should have known that it was too good to be true, even after I cornered my principal to grill him about the possibility of getting more kids. He promised that it wouldn’t happen, and I know if it was up to him this would remain the case. It turns out that he has to add another special needs class, even though we have almost twice as many kids as the other school in the building, a school with more physical space and roughly the same number of teachers. This school is led by a Principal’s Academy person. It defies logic why we have to do this. Each of my classes will get about 5 more kids.
I’m so upset. I’m going to do my best to make these kids feel welcome, but even the smaller classes were a challenge because the kids are so chatty. Lunch detention does not seem to be helping; calling parents doesn’t seem to be helping. At least one of the kids I’m getting back cursed out all the teachers pretty regularly last year. If and when that happens, I decided that I am going to throw the fit of all fits because I just let these things get heaped on top of me. I understand that many of these kids have problems; I’m guilty of making excuses for them too. But I’m a teacher, not a counselor, and it seems like more obstacles keep getting thrown in my way.