monday, january 16, 2006

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the tension is starting to wind down a little here. this weekend was dedicated to catching up and grading. both aren't quite finished yet, but the grading, at least, will be done today. next week will be easy since i'll be working directly from the textbook and not giving too much homework. the only thing not easy this weekend was receiving the gas bill - i'm still trying to figure out how we're going to pay it. but even the rent issues got worked out. we won't be caught up until the beginning of february, but we won't be evicted or anything either. keeping the utilities going will be the hardest part of the whole mess, and one of them we'll let go of as soon as i change my phone number with the county to my cell. the online access will become part of the cable bill. so we're plodding our way forward out of the holiday mess. it'll take time, but it'll get settled and we'll be fine.

grading hasn't even been that big of a deal this weekend. i pretty much had a nice stack on friday, but now all i have left is one period and that will get taken care of easily today. 6th period may be large, but they're smart kids who do what they're supposed to do, in general. as for the other classes, well, they made it pretty easy for me by only having half of them turn in their work. that's right! only 2 weeks in and over half are failing to turn anything in! i've given a deadline for makeup work for this friday. we'll see if they actually do anything about it. i also talk to the teacher i've been subbing for this week some time. who knows? she might even have me tell them that if they don't turn it in on time, it stays a zero. i actually hope she does, not so much because i want the kids to fail, but because she doesn't need a stack of papers to grade on her return. that and the kids really need to learn to turn their work in when it's due. i've even overheard kids say they're not turning work in on purpose, or that they're failing quizzes on purpose. i've told all my classes that the only one they hurt by doing that is themselves. all they do for me is make it easier to grade stuff. nothing is easier than getting through the tiny pile and putting in the grades you have then putting in zeros for everyone else.

i'm not quite sure what's doing it, except maybe seeing the end of this assignment, but i'm feeling a lot more rested this weekend than i did over the 2 week holiday break. i'll miss a few of the kids (though one will be keeping in touch because she wants to improve her writing), but i'll be glad to be out of the high school for a bit. i've already got a couple of dates booked at the middle school i started with this year. in fact, it's the same class i was long term subbing in. it'll be nice to see some of the kids again. and they'll definitely be an easier group to work with than the high schoolers!

i've been told that this is the worst group of 9th graders they've ever seen. in fact, the teachers were apparently warned that this year had its issues. and, of course, the concern is that next year will be worse. since i've seen some of those 8th graders, i can't say it'll be worse, but it will probably be just as bad. one or two of the teachers told me they are closing in on their final years as teachers, not because they nearing retirement age, but because they are concerned about the kinds of students they'll be getting in upcoming years. having come from cali, where the school are being forced to put in metal detectors and all kinds of other issues are going on, i understand. it can't be easy to decide it's time to leave a job you've loved for years but know is about to become too dangerous to remain in. and it's sad that the kids are taking us there.

it's even sadder that the parents either aren't involved or can't see their children with clear eyes. i had several kids who failed last semester whose parent contacted me to blame me for their failures. forget the fact that the only reason these kids failed was because they didn't turn in homework. it's my fault the kid got all zeros. but saddest of all is where these kids are going. they will graduate (assuming they don't drop out) but have skills below high school level because of the lack of effort on their part and be unqualified for anything except the most menial jobs. and no amount of telling them that they're making their lives harder later seems to do any good. they just want it all easy now and to hell with the future. perhaps they don't think there will be much of a future when they get there, and i guess i can understand that too.

i don't think the school district out here makes it any easier for them either. for example, a 'd' starts at 70 instead of 60, and has a tiny margin since a 'c' starts at 74 or 75. then there's the way the classes are set up. they have tech for below grade level kids, college prep, then the honors and gifted and advanced placement classes. note, there's nothing between college prep and tech. a number of my kids are not college prep level, but i certainly don't think they're tech level either. why put a kid in a college prep class if they aren't planning to go to college? why turn the c.p. classes into the catch all for non-honors and non-tech kids? it doesn't make any sense to me. we may want the kids to go to college, and know college gives them the best chances for their futures, but it's their decision. i can't really run my c.p. classes like college prep because over half the kids have no intentions on going to college. and they really seem to resent being prepared for something they aren't going to do anyway.

soon it won't be my problem, at least not in the context of a teacher. i'll be done with the assignment and off to regular subbing or in my own classroom (which is the real hope) at the middle school level, which is run quite a bit different than high school. as a parent, i have one girl in all honors and a.p. classes, but now i wonder if that was her choice or just because she placed there and that's what the school thought was best. she's doing okay in all but one class, and in that class she already knows she has to get her grade up. taz probably won't even have to worry about it - his education focuses on life skills rather than academics anyway. as for froggy, i don't know yet. she's smart enough for honors, i think, so i don't think she'll be placed in the college prep class just because she's not honors and not tech, but we'll have to see.

for her, it may not be so easy.

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