Saturday, September 18, 2010

L'Shana Tova

Sitting in temple all day is tough. My Hebrew is not as good as it should be and I tend to lose my place quite a bit. I also like to understand what I am reading so my eyes tend to drift to the English translations. There are people walking in and out, clothes and jewelry to check out and conversations to eavesdrop on. It is hard to pay attention.

Sitting in synagogue this year made me think about what some of my students must be going through. The third term algebra classes are full of kids who did not pass algebra 2. They need to know what was taught in algebra 2 to be successful in algebra 3 and 4. They are now expected to be able to solve quadratic equations while most cannot factor and many have no grasp of signed numbers. Some try for a while and then their attention turns to cell phones, I-pods and conversations with their neighbors. Others put their heads down and go to sleep. The room pass is in constant use. I hate to admit it, but I am guilty of the same things. The use of electronic devices is forbidden on the holiday, but day dreaming and frequent walks to the bathroom are not. I want to be in temple and immerse myself in the observation of my holiday, but I can't. I think of my poor students. Many have close to perfect attendance but do nothing in class. They are the ones that feel like I do. I know some just come to socialize and there are groups of people that come to synagogue for the same reason.

I know, for me, the answer would be to study more, to improve my skills to be able to participate fuller. I tell myself I will do this every year, but so far, I have not listened. It is hard and time consuming and to tell the truth, I am not very good at languages. My kids know they should also study more but they face the same obstacles I do.

I don't have answers, I wish I did. I've often heard people say, "If the kids just applied themselves more, they would succeed." Thee people should spend a day as I just did, trying to keep up with something they do not have skills to keep up with. Maybe that would at least help them become more understanding and then maybe someone could arrive at a solution to the problem.


Anonymous said...

For some reason I thought you were getting better classes this year. But knowing you, you will work with these kids. At this point when you are thinking about retirement, why don't you just say F-it and work on reviewing with these kids. How many times have we been told to reteach until it's mastered? I think they will learn more once they got the basics down with a teacher like you. The kids will appreciate it. Who care what Mr. AP thinks. He can't be much of an educator if he keeps passing these kids to the advanced classes.
Any way you cut it, it's social promotion.

Mrs. Chili said...

Sometimes I wonder; if my colleagues in other schools were able to take the time to really get to know the kids in their classes, would those students' performances improve? I have a personal relationship with every student in CHS (there are only 77 of them at the moment, so this is possible). I don't have every one of them in my classes, but I know all their names. As a result of these relationships, everyone - teachers and kids - seems more invested in the process.

My classes are set up around a central table so we all - me, included - sit together on the same level. Of course, I have a ton of advantages that my colleagues don't have; I set my own curriculum, I have plenty of time during the day to actually interact with the students, and my discipline (English) encourages that kind of connection; we're working stuff out about the material rather than my explaining to them how to work out an equation or how an experiment has to be run. It is, by its nature, a dialogue.

Really, I think that many of the problems in education are similar to the ones we hear about in health care; not enough time with the "patient," people who aren't actually DOING the job are the ones making all the important decisions, that sort of thing. Working in the environment I do has helped me to see how very true this is.

Pissedoffteacher said...

I have my usual program which always includes some bottom kids, which I don't mind. My class has about 1/2 who failed last year. It is not fair to the others to keep reviewing. The good kids are owed an education too. As for Mr. AP, we are on polite, speakiog terms as of the moment. I always do what I want much to his dismay.

Anonymous said...

I thought that whole class similar to your 9th period last year w/o the behavioral problems. That said, how unfair to both halves of your class.
In elementary school we would group the kids so the advanced kids could help the other kids. But I worked in a cooperative style. Also I would get different workbooks for the kids. Of course this year class sizes are exploding making it difficult for teachers to do their jobs. The problem with math on the elementary level is the same content is introduced over and over again each year. If the curriculum would spent more time on each content instead of a little taste, then a majority of the kids would be able to master it. By the time they got to Jr HS,
it would be easy for them. Before EveryDay Math, I would do this, I would also teach the concepts I thought made the most sense instead of following the calendar.
To me understanding place value and expanded notation in the beginning made it easier to teach computation skills. Knowing and understanding the properties made addition and multiplication easier.
Next came terminology. Without understanding the vocabulary, (what is the product and/or quotient) children could not do word problems. But that was then. This is now.

Yael said...

Happy Holidays!

Ms. Tsouris said...

L'Shanah Tovah Tikvateinu!!