Thursday, April 06, 2006

Just another day

Except that it was anything but. That's not to say that it wasn't a good day, because I really didn't feel overly stressed out. It was just an interesting day.

-My students are very lethargic lately. We are on week six of no breaks and you can see the strain on the faces of the students. The problem is that this is the time to actually find more drive and more focus, and some students are not used to being pushed. I've had quite a few students, especially Intro level students, come to the realization that the next two months are going to be a real struggle. That reaction makes for some interesting conversations after class. Has anyone really pushed these kids before? Some seriously believe that I will simply pass them because it is time to graduate, even if they have not completed the minimum.

-I read a Wall Street Journal article by David Wessel called "It's the Teachers, Stupid", which is another attempt by an economist to reason with the education problems in America. An idea called The Hamilton Project was put together by a group of economic advisors and economists to figure out how to cure the ills of education. Their thesis was simple. There are too many bad teachers. At least 25% must be cut out immediately and the new ones should be given no tenure. Teachers should receive a $10,000 pay increase if they teach in tough schools and merit pay should be instituted for testing. See, wasn't that easy? According to their research, class sizes didn't matter because if you cut out bad teachers and replace them with good ones, who cares about class size? The article also pointed out the simple solution of recruiting new and better teachers. Sure. I bet the guy making $60 grand in tech will want to teach Math for $45 grand at Castlemont in Oakland. By the way, no mention of ESL, Special Education, rude parents, unmotivated kids, bad administration, or the fact that teaching is one of the lesser respected "professional" fields. Thankfully, there is an economist who is a teacher than can show the error of young David's ways.

-I broke up a fight today between two girls. I first I thought my student was joking when he calmly stated that there was a fight outside of my door. I expected two juggernauts to be hauling away at each other, and the image of me having to get in the middle of it was entering my brain. Instead it was two girls, both about as tall as my waist, that were crawling all over each other on the ground. I calmly stepped in and separated the two little Napoleons with ease, trying very hard not to laugh. Neither was very hurt, and both were dealt with by the supervisors. Still, the image of me picking up two little girls off the ground in a fight was amusing.

-Tomorrow, I will attend the funeral of my former student. I'm not going to delve into the reason for the students death, except to say that it was not intentional. I really hate funerals. My family always had a sense of celebration that came with death. Even when my uncle died of cancer, the relief was very apparent, and then the celebration of his life took place. This is totally different. The situation is tragic, and there are more variables that I can't really discuss that make the whole event a major, major tragedy. I'll go for two reasons. One, I want to sort of say farewell to a student I liked. Second, I'm going to see a lot of people that I know in a bad state. Maybe they can use a shoulder to cry on.
blog comments powered by Disqus