Facing La Frontera

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 22 2012




Sometimes I make a difference: 

—one of my top students wrote me a note saying “What can I say? You helped me find the leader inside me this year and get ready for my goals with the ACT.”

–another student, “Thank you for teaching us about the issues that are happening all around us. We had no idea.”


Sometimes I don’t

–After calculating all of their reading diagnostic scores, I have come to the unsettling conclusion that essentially the amount of students who came to me on grade level…..are leaving me on grade level. There are about 8 students in every class who who still aren’t on grade level but grew at least a year. There are about 8 students in every class who still aren’t on grade level and didn’t grow at least a year.

So essentially…I didn’t screw most of them up….but I also didn’t achieve this idea of “transformational change.”  And yet I did everything I knew how to do.


Conclusion: I need to learn better ways. Quality over quantity.


Ways to do this

1) Gotta new school next year, new ideas, combo my best stuff with their best stuff

2) Gotta get kids to read. Gotta get the lowest kids to read. Gotta get the parents to understand why they have to force their child to read at home just like I force them to read at school. Gotta convince the parents to do their job as parents the same way I have to suck up their behavior sometimes and do my job as the teacher.

3) Gotta go back to school and get better ways to teach. Gotta spread the word.


I don’t know how to solve this problem. But you can bet that I’ll continue trying new things until we figure it out.



Final thought for the evening. I was the cake cutter at the middle school sports banquet tonight. (I might’ve stolen the show a bit with my fancy cake-cutting skillz) My secret favorite student got Most Improved Player for his sport because, as I quote the coach, he “improved on the field and in the classroom.”  I teared up, then hollered a lot for him. It’s my classroom he was talking about. He’s still dramatically behind, 4.5 grade level, but he did grow a year and a half this year. So if he can keep doing that, he can at least make it to 8th grade reading level before he enters college, which is what studies show you need to not be a high-risk for dropping out. It pains me, but it’s the truth. This charismatic, intelligent young leader is going to be crippled by his inability to read. So keep him in your prayers in the future. He has to keep growing.

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    you can always change the world around you

    Rio Grande Valley
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