Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Learn From Your Mistakes (There Are Many To Learn From)

There were final farewells today, mostly to the kids.  There was no need to say goodbye to the teachers who care about me, and who I care about, as our friendship will endure beyond Packemin.

A former student heard it was my last day and came to visit.  He is now attending a very prestigious college, taking linear algebra in pursuit of his engineering degree.  (He placed out of calculus.)  This student did not do well on the Packemin placement test and was put in the lowest level math class as a freshman.  (He is from South America, so his placement should be no surprise to anyone.)  I got to know him when he was a sophomore, saw how brilliant he was and pushed him ahead.  He did trig as independent study, got a 98 on the regents and then took BC calculus and got a 5 on the exam.

This is old stuff that I have written about before.  Today, as we were talking, the ninth grade teacher he had recognized him.  She commented on how smart he was even back then.  It struck me that she should have moved him then, but did not.  Truthfully, it is not her fault.  She was new and inexperienced and had no idea how exceptional he was and how she could have helped him.  Still, the point is that if she had asked an experienced teacher, or had a decent supervisor, this kid would not have been held back then.

My big mouth always gets the best of me and as Mr. AP was around at the time, I loudly said, "Someone really messed up on Owen's placement."  Now, anyone who knows Mr.AP knows he is never wrong never admits to being wrong, so instead of congratulating Joe on his success, he began defending himself by talking about another student.  I conveniently left as he was in mid sentence.

No one is perfect.  But, we have to admit our mistakes before they can be corrected.  If it wasn't for the AP Guidance, this kid would never have gotten where he is today.  I recognized his potential and she acted.

I am off Mr. AP's mailing list, but I still see his memos.  (They are so amusing various department members forward them to me.  He sent out a slide show full of serene messages.  Here is one of my favorites:
Life is school and we are here to learn.  Problems are lessons that come and go.  What has been then will serve us  for the days of our lives.
Too bad he hits the forward button before he reads the message.


Anonymous said...

hypocrisy is the name of the game within the DOE..the city can throw away about 4,000 books from the People's Library but schools have a shortage of books, supplies and resources?

Anonymous said...

You WILL be missed by the students and staff....this I know!

ChiTown Girl said...

Congrats on being finished with that place. Enjoy your retirement!!

You're still doing the community college, right?

Pissedoffteacher said...

Yep--down to just one job. I'll teach two classes there.

Schoolgal said...

I know retirement was a hard decision for you, and you still needed a connection to a place you served so well.

More importantly, you left a legacy to those students you fought for and helped. I hope someone will be strong enough to take your place and advocate for these kids. As I am sure that Mr. AP will soon discover that he will no longer have a stronghold on the younger teachers as they grow more savvy.

Enjoy your mornings!!!

ReTiredButMisstheKids said...

I know that you read Fred Klonsky's Blog (others who are reading this should read his, too!). I cited you today, as he posted a story about a new CPS(Chicago Public Schools) Central Office Administrator (Right--like they need more & they have ALL the money in the world to pay yet another flunky!) A 32-year-old who took the administrator shortcut to a position of power that allows him to be in charge of school closings.

Things are bad all over. REALLY bad. Tiny Tim should be saying,"God help us all!"