Initially I planned on writing this as a Saturday School post but this week has been such an emotional blur that this morning has been the first moment where I feel my mind has somewhat cleared and I can put some of these frustrations out in the interwebs.
Some of you who I talk with via Twitter or just around know that this year I finally could implement the at-risk team that I had wanted for years. My school is pretty rough and there are many problems that I have with the in's and out's of how the system is ran. But that's neither here nor there. And hardly what this post is mainly about.
The at-risk team's purpose was to pull the lowest leveled kids in the 7th grade who simultaneously had the highest discipline issues or attendance issues. I truly believe that Maslow's Hierarchy is pretty legit. If basic needs aren't met then higher level (i.e. education) is not a priority. And while I cannot go home with all one hundred kids, we can create a family atmosphere within the classes. I joined forces with two other like-minded individuals and that's where our passion has been this year.
Through grants we have taken kids to museums and theatrical performances and even theme parks. We have done team building activities as well as guest speakers come in and talk about other options. We have made home visits, purchased them clothes, and tried to be a family as often as possible.
And we have seen changes. Just last week a boy came up to my desk mid-class and said: Thanks miss for making this year great. This wasn't prompted.
Data. Data. Data. Let's talk about data. Because truly that's all what the higher-up's care about. Our attendance record with these students has sky-rocketed. They actually want to come to school. Discipline? We've had students who topped the charts with over fifteen referrals to never getting suspended. And as for our state exams? Well we won't know that for another few weeks. BUT as I've stated, you get kids believing in themselves their scores WILL go up.
We've met through out the year with admin about our team and have received nothing but praise. We even began pulling grants for next year, and had already booked a field trip for our incoming group.
THEN last Sunday, via a very cold e-mail, we were told the team got pulled. With no explanation. Just a you wouldn't agree and you're all good teachers who can make a difference anywhere.
That. Was. It.
Come Monday morning and after a shocked staff, we found many other changes that just didn't make sense. Those I won't get into because it's not the reason for my over-all devastation. There are not many people who will willingly stand up and say give me the hardest kids, let me teach them.
There are many things about this school year that has made it difficult: while separating a fight I was punched hard enough to leave an orange size bruise on my shoulder; my car has been vandalized twice, and there's been numerous politically backlashes. BUT I've remained a "chin-up" sorta person because I believed in what I was accomplishing down at my corner of the hallway.
I wish I could truly express the level of emotional disappointment. We have eight days left. Normally I would feel the excitement of a year well done mixed with a small level of sadness knowing that my kids are leaving the metaphorical nest.
But now, I'm only filled with anger.