Sunday, August 25, 2013

The transition - lofty goals

The transition is upon me.  'Tis time to start moving into school-mode and away from summer-mode, even IF the garden hasn't cooperated very much with me due to the late Spring this year.  

The beans are JUST starting to produce;  I can predict needing to pick and preserve them on Wednesday; the very day I need to head back full-time to school.  *sigh*.  The tomatoes are just starting to turn; they will easily need another 2 weeks, I think.  The cucumbers are in full swing.  The peas are done.  The corn -- well, there's a small story there, but I think another week is needed for the 6 rows of the "good stuff" to be ready.  A different 6 rows we planted has been ready a few days ago, but..... we be thinkin' it's not that great :(  The seed is called "Northern Sweet", but..... it ain't very sweet, folks!  We are actually wondering if it's 'field corn.'  SO, we're leaving those rows alone, and lettin' 'em dry up.  The plan:  give it to the chickens once it dries.  Potatoes and onions are always Paul's babies, and so I'll let him plan his schedule there. I think that's about it.  We have carrots and peppers and a few other odds-n-ends, but we mainly use them to make vegetable juice with the tomatoes.

Therefore, since the garden hasn't needed me daily, and .....
... after seeing my AP-Statistics scores from my students' May tests.....
it's clear I need to put some time into some curriculum!  The scores are not good.  And, I am taking those scores heavily to heart.  Were they really that under-prepared???  The more and more I think about the whole situation (which I have done LOTS of the last couple of nights when I should have been sleeping), I end up having more questions that answers.

I have researched updated materials;  truthfully, the materials I currently have are not extremely teacher-friendly -- I don't even have a teacher's manual!  They were handed over to me when I took over teaching plain-'ol statistics three years ago having gone untouched and unused since 1999, and I kept them last year for my first year of AP-Statistics.  The updated version looks AMAZING with tips and tricks to help students overcome common errors.  etc, etc, etc.  It seems that I have support from the administration, so tomorrow, my first task will be to contact the Sales Rep to get the ball rolling.  Meanwhile, KNOWING that I'll need to focus MOST of my time this school-year on AP-Statistics, I wanted to get as much curriculum mapping done as possible in my other courses, Math 7Reg, Math 7Adv, Math 8, and Algebra 8.  Eight hours Friday, 12 hours yesterday.... and I have three more units of Math 8 to go, and all of Algebra 8 (ALSO a new text resource this year!).  

Friday night was the worst night I've had in a long time, having just found out the AP test scores that afternoon.  The anxiety of the potential consequences of those scores took over, and I turned into an emotional basketcase.  With so much focus and hype now-a-days about student scores affecting teacher evaluations... .. yeah... definitely a cause for anxiety!

Of course, I could fall into "well, other veteran AP teachers have been commenting since the scores have been published that they are much lower than normal," but... still.  That won't cut the mustard on an evaluation.

So, I'm going to be ready to expect to be called into a meeting with the 'big bad administration.'  But I won't know what of much to say.  Again, I have more questions than answers too.  The kids came out of the testing room saying I had "over prepared them," so obviously, they felt they were confident and prepared.  **sigh**

I don't like feeling like I failed them, but how else can I feel?  

I wish I could see their tests to know where their weaknesses were...


QuiltinLibraryLady said...

I don't think you failed the kids at all. Outdated teaching materials could easily have been the problem. My DIL found that out when she started taking her CPA tests. Her employer bought the prep materials and after taking the first test she found out they were outdated. Failed the second test. Finally bought and paid for her own up-to-date study material and passed her tests with flying colors.

Besides, the kids could have been over-confident on test day and whipped through the test without taking the proper care. Basing a teacher's evaluation on the kids' test scores on one test isn't the greatest idea anyway, to my way of thinking. How did they do the rest of the year? Did they seem to "get it"? My opinion is to keep the government out of education and let the teachers teach. We all know the government screws up everything it touches.

Wishing you the best for the new school year.

Andra Gayle said...

Hang in there, Amy. Wish you were having a better time of returning to work this year! I am sure everyone can tell you are doing your best. Good luck on that late garden. You certainly have your hands full.
Hope you find some crafting time to keep you sane.

Sundae Quilter said...

I am sure you did the best job you could have done... but as teachers we always take it personally. I saw the PSSA scores from last year, and honestly wasn't surprised. Some of my kids were finished with the test in 15 minutes... and they had over and hour to do it.

We start tomorrow and honestly I'm still not feeling ready. I didn't do anything this summer with grandbaby arriving and Abby's tonsils. Honestly, I wasn't in the mood.

Well good luck! You'll do great.

Kevin the Quilter said...

I admire your passion for teaching your students. Many teachers these days could care less. But, please take into consideration items that can't easily be tested.......student motivation to succeed and do well, home environment, and parent interest in their child's education, and providing them with the proper discipline and tools to learn. I have NO doubt you are an excellent instructor, so with the information you have at hand, please don't be too hard on yourself.

scraphappy said...

Hugs Amy. It is hard not to take the students scores personally, especially with the end of tenure and merit based pay hanging over our heads. My AP scores weren't where I wanted them to be this year either, we just did a major course overhaul and yes, the scores were down overall, but that sounds like an excuse when you are sitting there explaining it to an administrator. You can only do what you can do. Staying up nights fretting is going to make you AND your students a basket case. So teach them the best you can and let everyone else fade away. Seriously, is there someone else clamoring to teach AP Stat?

Amanda said...

Oh, don't teachers take everything to heart! We always feel that it's our fault, but it takes two to tango, so part of the answer must lie in the students' hands. And don't get me started on scores! The school I taught at always came in the bottom third in the 'league tables', which disheartened us every year. Yet if we looked at Value Added - which the newspapers and 'high ups' rarely did - we came near the top. Results, whether good or bad, are never down to just the one teacher, it's the cumulation of what's gone before as well. Hey ho, going back to school after the summer break is never much fun.

Andee said...

Hugs! I wish I knew what to say to make you feel better. Just know that you are doing the best you can and you are willing to change and grow and learn from the scores. That is worth its weight in gold! My kid would be in your class any day!

the ark said...

I am so sorry for you and your students. I know what a dedicated, caring, and conscientious teacher you are and how you must be struggling over this. What a frustrating way to begin your new school year! I know that you will do everything you can to prepare yourself and your next batch of students as fully as you can. In the end, that is all you can do. You do the best you can as a teacher and then it is up to the students.
Try to get some sleep and take care of yourself.