Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 09 2012

First day back (without kids!)

We had our first day of official school meetings today. First of all, I’m a big fan of my new principal because, unlike last year’s first-meetings, we did NOT sit there as someone read the staff manual to us. We did NOT have unimportant meetings until 3pm and we did NOT get told that all the stupid little things that make our life difficult (copier locked in the office, paperwork posted on walls required to be EXACTLY the same room to room, staff trainings required to happen every week whether or not we need to be trained, etc.) are district-mandated. He even played us two inspirational songs, reassured us that he really wants to be at our school, did away with at least one annoying ridiculous thing, and met with every grade level individually. People seem happier already. I’m hopeful for our school being a better place to work this year, and hopeful for that translating into students being happier too.

On the other hand, we also looked at our test scores today. On the plus side, my students from last year did well. They came 5th in the district for math, solidly in the top half of the state, and 7th in the district for reading, in the bottom half but still OK. When you compare us to schools with a similar student population in terms of ELL designation, poverty levels, student transience, and so on, we did way better. We also had more students proficient this year than the same students the year before. Not by a ton, but it’s still improvement. Of course, you always wish there was more growth and it’s always upsetting when you still have kids at the Beginning Steps range (the lowest designation). But I’m satisfied, and I think our grade level team did good stuff last year.

Looking at the test scores for the kids coming into our grade this year, however, makes me nervous. Of course scores aren’t everything and I don’t want to harp on it, so I’ll just say it and be done: they were last and second-to-last in the whole state. And New Mexico is ranked 49th out of 50 states in education. But you know what that means? We have nowhere to go but up!

I’m daunted by the idea of how very, very low my students’ skills are likely to be. Quite frankly, I’m scared that I won’t know what to do, that they just flat-out won’t get it and I’ll be at a loss. But I’m also excited to see what we can accomplish. I know they CAN learn. I know we CAN do it. We’re ready to work, and I’m hoping we can do great things together. After all, we have nowhere to go but up.

One Response

  1. ezLarsen

    How fortunate for the kids who find themselves in your classroom. My first really good teacher was my senior year in college and I remember thinking, so this is what real learning is all about and why have I wasted so many years just memorizing and regurgitating. Every day is an adventure waiting to be filled with new learning and your kids must love to come to school.

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In which I muse about New Mexico, teaching, and life in general.

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