Halloween is the end of the term for my school.
That means grades are coming in, writing units are ending, vocabulary units are ending, literature units are ending. And, next week, we start again!
But, I’m completely frazzled! And it is making me sick to my stomach.
Planning is part of it, yes, but a minor, easily fixable part, although it will take quite a chunk out my my weekend.
No. It’s the grades.
My school doesn’t want “free days” which is completely understandable. But, that means, we need to have productive, meaningful lesson plans through Thursday. Which means, there is little time for catch up. Which means, it’s kind of hard to stagger deadlines. Which means that is a lot of pressure on my little kiddies who have tests/projects for literature, Latin root vocab quiz, and a 3 paragraph essay for Writing due all on the same day. And that is just for me. Include 5-6 other classes on top of that.
But, these kids are used to it. My charter school is rigorous. It is tough and fast-paced, but doable. Almost all of my students have Bs or As.
That is, except my 7th graders.
And therein lies the problem.
I don’t know what it is about them. Last year, down in Springville, my 7th graders were angels, always wanting to please. My 8th graders were always the issue. Here, it’s quite the opposite. My 8th graders are awesome. True, this is 2 of them that I have behavior issues with, but all the teachers are real on top of it (it’s an issue in all their classes). My 8th graders get down to work, and are quite and put effort and quality into their work and do it correctly.
However, my 7th graders…
First of all, I have them 1st period. And there is construction on both sides of the roads for my school is. It is a carpool school only, so a lot of them are consistently late, although the school has sent out several emails and phone calls to parents warning them to come earlier due to construction. This means, they miss out on teaching.
Secondly, they consistently forget their homework. We have planners that we have the students fill out every single day for homework in every single period. The past two weeks, we’ve been doing poetry. So, their homework has been to incorporate that daily poetical technique into a short poem. Easy and creative! Well, I’ve had about a 25% turn in rate, even after I mentioned they needed all their poems for a packet and poetry slam we’ll be doing on Thursday.
Thirdly, only about 5 of them participate. This is great for those 5, but that means the others aren’t having the same learning experience.
Fourthly, because they aren’t doing their homework, they aren’t studying or retaining what we are learning. We finished up our final drafts for a compare/contrast essay for The Pearl. They had about 3 weeks to work on this, the whole time, me breathing down their necks about proper transition words, using specific examples, incorporating quotes, and citing them properly. Only about a half actually paid attention. Then, yesterday, we had our poetry quiz. They were study study Tuesday night and get a parent signature to prove they did. 3 out of 21 did. Then, I gave them 5 minutes (which ended up being 15) to study. Gave them their tests, realized they were going to do horrendously, and then gave them 5 minutes (which ended up being 10) at the end of the class to use their notes to help them. I finished grading them…maybe 5 got above an 80%. YUCK!
Fifthly, they have forgotten how to behave. The entire school has the same policy for classroom management, the same rules and consequences. They have had this philosophy of how a good student acts and works in class since 1st grade. And yet, I am constantly trying to get their attention again, remind them every 2 minutes of not talking during individual work or when I’m talking, and having students move seats.
It is stressing me out. And the fact that then I’m in a bad mood when I finish school and seeing these piles of papers I have to grade after I drive 45 minutes home is not my ideal evening.
I’m almost to the point where I want to say to the 7th graders, ok, you win. I won’t teach you. You can decide what assignments you do or don’t do. I won’t put any grades in the gradebook next term and when your parents or the principal asks why you don’t have a grade, you can explain to them that you don’t deserve a grade because you don’t work toward a grade.
*Exasperated sigh*. There is my once-in-a-blue-moon soapbox rant for the Term. Tune in after Christmas break to possibly hear another.