I want to do a good job, I really do. But it seems like the universe wants to chip away at my motivation until there is nothing left. The year began with promise, smaller classes with kids who were behaved enough so that I could build on that and move on to the real business of teaching. After three weeks, I got several more students, who are, for lack of a better term, unclassified special needs students. I can work with the kids who are academically behind, but the kids who don’t know how to behave are a different story. I have already talked to and met the parents of the most difficult students, and while a couple of them are showing some improvement, the ones I had the most trouble with have not improved at all.
I have two choices: I can continue to invest time, effort, more discipline, whatever I have, into these kids, into trying to get to know them and understand them in the hopes that I will somehow reach them and motivate them. Or I can put the time into carefully documenting all the bad behavior and the lack of work, making sure to give copies of everything to the principal, the assistant principal, the counselors, the parents.
Now that I am going to be rated on my students’ performance on their standardized tests, I am obviously going to chose the second option. There’s no time for actual interest in the problem kids, no time for actual interest in any of the kids. It has been reduced to a numbers game, one I have to play.
The idea of saying to hell with real teaching and plunging full-time into test prep is very, very tempting. It doesn’t matter if the kids learn; it matters that they are able to take tests.