Two weeks

Today is the end of my second week at third placement this year, my real home for student teaching.

Two weeks.  It feels like longer, but in a good way.

Today during fifth period students were taking a test.  During that time, I worked on recording their scores on our daily work and homework tracking sheets, and putting them into the gradebook.  When I was done, I took a look at how the two algebra classes I am working with are faring.

I was pleased to find that in first period, all of the students are passing.  In fact, the lowest grade is a D+.  Now, the students have just taken a test that has yet to be entered into the gradebook, so it’s possible these scores might drop.  But we’re now two months into the school year and everyone is still passing – that’s pretty remarkable!

Fifth period is also doing really well, with the exception of three students.  One of them was severely injured and will be missing two or three months of school.  Nothing can really be done about that.  Two, though, are students who appear to me to be choosing not to succeed.  As far as I can tell they are capable of doing the mathematics, but choose not to.  They come late, if at all.  They rarely do homework.  One even chose not to take the test today at all.  It could be that these two are just so lost that they are ashamed for some reason and have to hide it, but I find myself doubting this.  I think it’s more likely that there are other factors – things going on in their lives outside of the classroom – that are causing them to choose to fail.  Aside from these three, I believe the lowest score was a B-.  In algebra.  A class that has historically been very difficult for students.  I don’t know if it’s the complex instruction model, the quality of the teachers in general, or some combination of things, but I find these to be some very impressive results.

Two weeks probably isn’t enough time for me to really know what’s driving the success here.  I know that I have learned a lot.  The complex instruction model requires that I spend a lot of time interacting with students, which has been invaluable.  I am still working to remember all the students’ names, but I find that even when I can’t remember, I do know them a little.  I get to know their personality, feel like I can read their body language.  I am starting to know if they are stuck or want help even before they get to the point of raising their hand.  What has been even more valuable is to be part of helping all these young people learn (slowly, at times) how to get along with people they would not normally choose to associate with.  We assign students to groups randomly every two weeks, so chances are good that by the end of the school year they will have worked with everyone more than once.  This seems like a really valuable skill for them to have as they start taking on the status and responsibility of being adults.

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