Facing La Frontera

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 20 2011

Parents, parents, parents


I have communicated in some fashion with over 15 parents today. Whew! But I’m so glad I’m doing it today and not putting it off.

What up, you say?

Well, let’s start from the beginning. Classes went fine. We reviewed a little then played TAKS jeopardy. Not as riveting as TAKS Vegas, but they were still working. We didn’t finish it, so tomorrow I’m going to give the classes the choice of TAKS Vegas or TAKS Jeopardy.

The only “exciting” moment of the day was when I had a student (the one who has been suspended multiple times) have an “emergency” and have to go to the nurse because his heart was hurting because he laughed too much. Well, as little as I believed him, I don’t like taking chances, so I sent him with an escort.

When they returned, 20 minutes later, I asked if they had gone straight there and back. Nope, she tells me, he insisted on stopping at the bathroom…..Grrrr. On the spot, I issued him a lunch detention.

At lunch, he doesn’t show up. I send a student to retrieve him, and she says he refuses to come and continues to “run away.”

I tell my team leader and she says – write a referral.

So I do.

Well, next class comes along, and he is AWOL. No one can find him. After the Assistant Principal gets involved, we find out he is with the counselor. Whoops. And AP says perhaps that’s why he couldn’t serve his lunch detention. I still think “running away” = choosing not to attend, but w/e.

Shows how testy things are at the school.

I also told my student they could dress out tomorrow; turns out I was misinformed on that. That one wasn’t my fault. What was my fault was telling my kids they could dress themed on Monday before I had approval from the Principal. Whoops. Even though my AP told me she had to check with him, I assumed it was ok b/c it was before. Not true. Not terrible, but I don’t like going back on what I’ve announced to my kids. I also don’t like them not being able to have a de-stressor before TAKS. But it’s ok. I’ll make in-class time special.

Anyways, after school I worked with one girl for about an hour on our homework passage. I was a little shocked and upset by how little she comprehends. She tries, but in a paragraph that is 2 sentences long, she still can’t tell me what the main idea is accurately. I’ve gotten better at recognizing how the test-makers construct sentences to be confusing for my kiddos…..or what markers they need to know to be successful….but still. If she can’t read it, she can’t successfully answer the questions. blehhhhh.

After that, I graded (read: got students to grade for me) and entered grades. I’m getting all that done tonight so I can go to the Mass of the Lord’s Supper tomorrow and stay in Adoration without feeling guilty.

Then, because next week will be crazy, I started calling parents. Here’s the system I tried with one student who rushes and makes dumb mistakes. We told him on the last test that if he finished too quickly, I would call his mom. Now, the teacher never even told me how quickly he finished, but his score improved from a 73 to an 89. So it works.

I called/emailed about 8 parents telling them about it. So far all have been supportive.
Then, on the day of the Writing TAKS, I had 2 with the opposite problem. 3:45 rolled around and they had barely answered 1/4th of the test. So for them: 1 is hard to motivate. He loves to eat lunch inside though (unfortunately because he doesn’t have any friends). I told him today that if he gives 100% and the teacher he is with tells me he finished in a reasonable amount of time, that I will let him eat lunch inside for the rest of the year.

You should’ve seen his smile.

I kid you not. It was like the equivalent of offering extra recess to another kid. So we have a deal. hopefully it works.

For the other one, his mom actually had to come shadow him earlier in the year. He hated it. So I emailed her tonight telling her that admin approved our plan. If he hasn’t gotten through 1/2 of the test by noon, we will escort him to the other building, where he will call mom and get the kick he needs. I’m also going to tell him if he doesn’t work well I’ll ask her to shadow again.

Hopefully those 2 interventions will assist those kids. We had TAKS training today, and I was telling the admin how frustrating it was on Writing TAKS day to essentially watch 2 students finish so quickly they’ll be lucky if they passed, and then watch 2 others take so long they almost turned in empty scantrons.

So hopefully this pre-emptive work will lead to less of those types of frustrations.

Tonight: One more grade to input, a powerpoint to produce, and then sleep. Just 12 more hours of school till 3 day weekend!

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