Saturday, May 30, 2009

Final Goodbyes

I said goodbye today to my school family. It's been a tough day with lots of tears. I'm not just leaving a job. I'm leaving a place that for me was a home a way from home. A place that I truly loved to go every morning (ok, most mornings!). I'm leaving fellow teachers that are closer to me than some family members. I'm leaving the school that educated me and my three children.

There are those that say my school is "unacceptable" (TEA and the Federal Gov't). I guess if you just go by statisics then you would be right. But numbers sometimes lie and you must look a little more closely to see the whole story.

In my mind, BSHS is exemplerary and deserves the highest accolades and ratings possible for the following reasons:

1. An administration that fully and completely supports the teachers
2. A staff that is 100% committed to doing the best job possible for every single child
3. A commitment to extracurricular academics which resulted in a 3rd place team finish out of all the 4A high schools in the state of Texas
4. An athletics program that encourages excellence on the field and in the classrroom. Almost every sport saw players competing past the district level.
5. An AP calculus program where 100% of the students received 5's on the AP exam last year.
6. A top notch band and choir program
7. Award winning Career and Vocational program
8. Counselors who actually work with the teachers to do what is right for the students not what is easiest for them.

Goodbye Big Spring High School. I will miss you with all my heart. I pray God's richest blessings on you and all who pass through your doors!

Monday, May 25, 2009

State Champion!

I am reporting to you today live from the beautiful city of Austin, Texas where my number sense student just won a state championship.  I won't tell you which classification we are because the results are published online, but I am one proud math coach.  I have been working with this young man since he was a freshman.  He is truly the most determined student I have ever met.  He has qualified for state a total of five times in 4 different events:  Number Sense, Mathematics, Cross Country and Track.  In two weeks he will be here in Austin again to run the two-mile at the state track meet.  

I'm really proud and it was really cool that I got to go on stage with him and receive a little pin that they give all the coaches of the state champions.  It was a great way to end my career at Middle-of-Nowhere High School.  Mr. Mathlete will go on to study Chemical Engineering next year at Texas Tech and I am moving on to the Texas hill country, but I will never forget the last four years and the privilege I had to be his coach and mentor.

Friday, May 22, 2009

And the Results are In!

Well, our TAKS scores finally came in.  I was hoping for more, but in the end our 9th graders improved 9 points, 10th improved 7 points, and 11th had a decrease of 4 points.  I am hoping and praying these scores will be enough to meet federal AYP and get us off of the "unacceptable" status with Texas Education Agency.  We won't know until all the sub groups are broken down.  

I had some real heartbreakers in my remedial classes.  Out of 57 enrolled in the class, 38 passed and the rest failed.  Of the 19 who failed, there are 5 who I cannot figure out for the life of me how they did not meet the standard.  They were scoring in the 70's and 80's on all the practice tests.  It was so sad for them because I know they did their best.  They were really disheartened and said they didn't know how they would ever pass the exit level test.   One even said he felt like quitting school because this was the first year he'd had ever given it everything he had and he still failed math and science.  

I truly believe when I get personal results back, we will see a big improvement in their scores from last year to this year.  I keep telling myself that last year 100% of these kids failed the state assessment so the fact that 38 passed this year should make me happy.  It is just disheartening when I think of the 19 who failed.  I keep wondering if there was something I could have done differently.  At least they are only 10th graders and they have one more year before their exit level exam.  I think with another year of math instruction and another year of maturity, they will be right where they need to be to pass their exit level exam.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hall Nazis

The teachers at my school share the duties associated with keeping a school running safely and orderly.  We are split into 6 teams and every 6 weeks we have a duty to do either in the morning or afternoon.  My job is always morning cafeteria duty.  I asked for cafeteria duty so that if any of my students need help, I can help them in the cafeteria at the tables.  I dread duty week.  I feel I am always behind when I do my duty.  My mornings just don't start off as smoothly.  

I've always thought all teachers dreaded morning duty, but I have come to realize there are some who love bossing kids around so much that they feel they must be on "duty" even when it is not their week.  At our school we have a set time for morning tutorials.  The bell for morning tutorials rings at 7:30 and heaven help you if you arrive at 7:31 and try to get upstairs to your math classroom.  These hall nazis are so gung ho about keeping the halls free of students that they spend their mornings outside their classroom doors making sure no one gets by them. 

 My next door colleague has morning duty this week in the hall where the kids enter the building from the parking lot and then either go upstairs to tutorials or to the cafeteria.  If a student needs to go to tutorials and it is just a few minutes past the tardy bell, he'll ask them where they are going and then tell them to hurry up and get up there before any of the hall Nazis catch them.  Unfortunately, he was caught in the act this morning and he received a severe tongue lashing for not following the rules and procedures that make our school run like a well oiled machine.  He wasn't about to put up with that kind of treatment so he pointed to the chair he had been sitting in and said "there's a chair for you".  Hall Nazi was confused and said, "Why do I need a chair" and he said, if you really want to do my duty for me, then I have lots of work in my room that needs to be done and I'm going to leave this hallway for you to take care of".  He then left her standing there flabbergasted as he walked up the stairs to his classroom.  

We have another Hall Nazi at the other end of the building.  She too, cannot seem to stay in her room in the mornings and work.  You can hear her screaming at students clear across the building about breaking some sort of hall rule.  Even on my wing of the building there is a Nazi who feels a strong need to spend all her spare time looking for rule-breakers.  Just last week, I heard a bunch of yelling near my room so I went out to see what was happening.  Two girls had come upstairs to put some books in their lockers.  Instead of nicely reminding the girls that they weren't supposed to be in the hall between 7:30 and 7:55, she was screaming so loudly at them to "Get out of the hall" and "Don't you girls know any better than to not be in the halls after 7:30?" that I could hear her all the way in my classroom.  How would you like to start out your day being screamed at?  Even better, how would you like to start out your day screaming at others?  I'm sorry, I just can't live like that.  Unless someone is being physically harmed or threatened, I can't think of a single reason to scream at anyone.  

So here's my idea.  Let's take the 6 Hall Nazis and just make them  the happiest people in the world.  We'll give them duty every single day of the school year.  We'll all be happy.  The other teachers will no longer have morning duty, and the 6 Hall Nazis can get their jollies by keeping all the kiddos in line and out of those hallways.

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