So, today is the last day of school. Thank god. In all the years I've taught, this was by far the most frustrating year.
Before I became a teacher where I am now, I taught at a school that has severe behavior problems and very low income students. However, this year has been worse than any year I had at the other school.
1. We have a new superintendent. One of his directives has been to limit the student write ups because "it looks bad". So, the discipline has been off the chain this year. In 10 previous years, I averaged writing up 5 students or less. Any other issues were easily handled by me within the class. This year, I literally had: 106 write ups (for serious things like bullying, EXTREMELY inappropriate conduct and/or language, etc..), 48 times I had to have security remove a student or students. I'm not the only one, other teachers are extremely upset as well.
2. Colin Kaepernick. While some may not agree or whatever, in the past, I've never had more than 1 student not stand for the pledge and honor the moment of silence. I don't consider myself all that patriotic and I'm definitely not a republican. This year, after the whole Kaepernick stuff, literally the tables turned, roughly 3/4ths of the class will not stand and talks during the moment of silence. Most frequently, its by race. White and Asian students stand, black and hispanic students do not. Do I think being patriotic is necessity? NO, not at all, but its a discipline thing and in addition, while we may have issues here in the US, I try to make the students aware of what their situation could be in other places. There is no appreciation for our freedom. Yes, not standing is a freedom, but there is a bigger connection IMO. Again, I'm not happy about a lot of things going on right now, but I'm extremely happy to be an American and realize how lucky I am. It could be worse.
3. Lack of standards when it comes to parenting. For many students, they just don't care. Their parents don't hold them to any standard what so ever. In the past, I've had on average 1 student per class (6 out of 150) fail. This year, I have almost 50 failing. Not a single one is failing because they did poorly on a test or anything remotely like that. They have zero's. They don't do anything. Crazy sad. I've documented this all year and I don't have anything to worry about as a teacher because they are failing all of their other classes too. But it really sucks. Talking to friends that teach in other schools nearby, they are experiencing the same. Of those 50 students, 10 had no chance. They never came to school and did no work. 30 could have passed had they completed a kindergarten level project meant to keep them busy for the last 3 weeks of school during SOL retakes. 10 more could have passed if they just showed up to take their exam. Insane. (note; I have called home and done everything humanly possible to get the parents to get the kids here... NOPE. I'm also a very laid back teacher, I allow students to make up work etc... they just refuse). Part of it is a wake up call because they think that they are going to be pushed through. Some really don't care at all, they are going to be drug dealers. You'd be shocked at how many talk about that openly. They brag about how they can make more money than working a real job.
4. Poor student placement. This is something that the school could easily fix and many of us have been speaking up. In any 1 class, I've had 7-10 students that could be honors students, great kids, do everything they need to do. But I also have 10 kids or so that are future criminals. (Sorry, sounds harsh, but I wish I could upload videos of my classes to youtube to show you guys how bad it has been). I could easily handle 30 future jail kids in one class. Its just hard and a waste to have such a wide range of ability in a class. The great kids are missing out on a better education because I'm wasting so much time on basic discipline.
HOWEVER: as bad as its been, I've had more emails and notes from parents asking if I teach a subject that their kid can take next year. So many have expressed their thanks. It has been extremely humbling.
I had 12 Special Needs students that ONLY passed my class and SOL.
I've had feedback that from nearly every TCR (sped placement) meeting, the kids always say my class is their favorite.
I've been invited to 2 parties (including a sleep over... yeah, seriously... parent even emailed and said it was legit after I told the FEMALE student that I was honored but was afraid it was inappropriate... LOL, understatement of the year.) Seriously, bizarro year... (The female student wanted to jam out rock and metal songs, I play guitar etc...)
My end of year evaluation was outstanding.
I really hope this year was an anomaly. More and more teachers are quitting and going into other fields. I really love teaching. I don't expect that every student is going to be an amazing fully independent and driven kid. I actually enjoy working with the kids that need help and struggle, but they have to at least care. I'm finding that more and more do not care. The effort is diminishing in many. Even though the ones that don't care are rising, there are still a lot of great kids. But it worries me, what's going to happen to all the others?