As evidenced by the starting of this blog and many of my posts on Facebook and Twitter, I have recently become more and more passionate about changing what I feel are fundamental flaws in this country’s education policy. Also in the last few weeks, I have been overly frustrated in the classroom. After doing some reflection last weekend, I realized that these two things were linked at the hip.
While my students were taking the ‘First 9-weeks common assessment’ (not supposed to use the term ‘benchmark’), I did some more reflecting and actually drafted a letter (the body of which is below). I addressed this letter first and foremost to my students because it was important to me to man up and admit that I had not been holding up my end of the bargain.
After typing up the letter (the original copy was on a healthy stack of post-it notes since I couldn’t have my computer on during testing), I immediately emailed it to my principal (scary) and decided project it on my smart-board the next day so each of my students could read it and I could explain what had been going on.
Is my frustration going to immediately abate? Certainly not. But I have made a commitment to not allow that frustration to enter into my classroom. Will there be decisions made by the administration, superintendent, state, whatever that I don’t agree with? Probably on a near-daily basis. But, in the here and now, I have to deal with those decisions and continue moving forward with my students in the best way that I know how. The changes that I am trying to talk about are not going to happen over night and I have to accept that.
My students…past, present and future…deserve my best. And I intend to give it to them.
Here is the unedited letter I wrote:
In the last few weeks, I have done you a disservice…and for that I apologize. I have allowed some things I’m working on outside of school to color my attitude during school. These things I’m working on still relate to education, but I am going to make a commitment to turn those things off while I’m here with you each day.
My expectations for each of you have not changed. I truly believe that each of you can and will be successful in this class and all your classes.
I will be making some changes to how the class runs each day and my hope is that these changes will benefit each of you. You’ll be turning in a little more work during class and you’ll be able to track your progress a little easier on a day to day basis.
If there are any suggestions you have or if there is something I can do for you, please do not hesitate to let me know.
Again, I apologize for not being the teacher you deserve over the last couple weeks. I will strive to make things right and improve each day.