Monday, April 25, 2016

Why I won't be teaching math next year.

This post has been a long time coming.  I haven't been happy with the rush of standardized testing and the effect it has on both my ability to prepare students for life after high school as well as the rush for districts to choose boxed-style curriculum, taking away the creativity and undermining the teaching ability of the classroom teacher.

I don't teach to the test.  I don't do a lot of things that teachers of math who know their very jobs rely on how their students' scores on said tests probably should.  I see the frustration in my students' eyes when I don't have enough time or they don't have enough ability to embrace abstract concepts.  I see the frustration with focusing on one test at the end of the year instead of seeing through to the rest of their lives.

So today, I offer my resignation to teaching math.  Next year, I will be teaching students.  There may happen to be math involved, but my students will come first.

Don't you think they deserve it?

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Failure is not a destination...

My nephew is in the 7th grade.  There are less than two months before the end of the school year, and he is failing.  He has been failing all year.  My sister didn't tell me until last week and my heart is broken for him.

I know he's probably not the best behaved student in the class.  He's one of the youngest in his grade and is a very active kid.  He plays just about every sport possible and spends lots of time outside or playing with friends.  He's a good kid, but I'm sure it's hard for him to focus on school because "sit and get" is not his strength.

He's not very different from many students I know.  When classes aren't interesting, I'm sure he checks out.  Whatever the case may be, he hasn't been learning everything his teachers have been teaching.

If a student fails the homework and fails the test, they haven't learned what I was teaching.  I haven't done my job.  It is still my job to teach them, even if that's in the form of remediation.  I know it sounds like a lot of work, but that's my job.  My responsibility is to teach, not just provide information.

This isn't just because I teach students with IEPs and accommodations, this is because I teach students who are also human beings.

If I could go back to the beginning of the year and make sure my sister knew what to say to or ask of my nephew's teachers, he may not be failing now.  I'd tell her when would be an appropriate time to contact the principal, attend a parent-teacher conference with her to find out more information, offer to observe him in class, or help him after school.  There are a lot of processes I understand because I am a teacher.  It's easy to forget that parents don't understand or know that protocol.  That's why the burden falls on us to communicate with parents.

There are many lessons to be learned from failure.  But for the sake of my nephew and the other kids out there, please make sure failure is just a place along their path, not a destination.