Random Anecdotes

This week has had its ups and downs. Overall, it went way better than last week. Or, at least, it felt way better. I mean, I didn’t lose all my data again, so that’s definitely a plus.

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On Tuesday, I showed up to school to learn from one of my harder-core students that I had earned, and I quote, “mad street cred” for being able to play basketball. The day before, I had played one of my students one-on-one, and lost 7-6. I maintain that I would have crushed him if it wasn’t for the fact that I was sleep-deprived, malnourished, and in poor conditioning. Nevertheless, I made my point. My point was further made when I absolutely schooled 3 of my students in 21, including another of my more defiant students. It was a fun and worthwhile experience, and I think I’ll make it part of my Monday routine. Just one front of the battle for the hearts and minds…

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I just watched Hard Times at Douglass High, an HBO documentary on Baltimore City schools. It’s so true! I recommend it to anyone who wants a glimpse at the paradoxes and challenges of urban education. I’m not sure it really captures the constant feeling of being crushed between pressure from above through the district, the school, TFA, and Hopkins, and the demoralizing disrespect and defiance from below from the students.

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I got my student data back on the big standardized test they took at the beginning of the year, and it’s another reminder of how much my work is cut out for me. Out of 78 kids tested, 26 are in the lowest 10th percentile for 9th graders nationwide. On the bright side, 5 of my kids are above average, and 2 are in the top 25th percentile, but I’m at a bit of a loss as to how I’m going to engage my top students and remediate my lower students at the same time.

The big buzz word in teaching these days is “differentiation”. So far, to me, it mostly means doing 3 times the work as you normally would to make up for the fact that there aren’t enough teachers to teach the students on their individual levels.

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Tomorrow could be a clown show. It’s a half day, and the schedule is really goofy. Naturally, the kids are probably going to be wild. Then, after the kids are released, we have progress report pickups and parent-teacher conferences. What a crappy time to not have my data on hand. So far, my students’ parents have been very supportive, although I must say, I’m still nervous about dealing with them.

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