Saturday School - Introduction

So I don't often speak specifically about my job.  Obviously I deal with a lot of personal information that I would never want "out there", but this year especially has been a very frustrating and emotional one and I just need a PLACE to PUT THINGS. Mainly, these "things" will be more geared toward educational texts that I've been reading, but I'd like to relate them to my own personal experiences.

If you watched any of the afternoon talk shows, there was a good couple of weeks where they focused in on homelessness, pointing out that Orlando had the highest homeless population and the trend was only growing.  Whereas our county only(1)has less than 2,000 identified homeless students, they imagine the number is closer to 10,000. My school is thereabout 90% free/reduced lunch; on my team alone, I know of ten students who are homeless.  Some have the "luxury" of staying in motels.  Others, not so much.

This has been a short week for me.  Four days, coming back from holiday.  In those four days, we got word of a gang fight in one of the complexes that left one student's life in jeopardy, with the word on the street of a retaliation.  Two days later, another student's home caught on fire, destroying everything.  Finally, I had a candid convo with another student because he wanted to find out consequences if he was caught stealing.

Let me be clear, outside of smack talk, the violence stays outside of school campus.  It's mostly in the sketchy neighborhoods where people look the other way. BUT just because it is not in the hallways, does not mean it isn't a part of the students.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs tell us that the basic needs must be met before any other higher steps on the pyramid.  Unfortunately, many of these basic needs are not in my power to assist in meeting.  I can create a safe haven in my room for the forty-five minutes that the students are there.  They also know I have an open door policy, and often use it.  No matter how tough a kid might act, they are still a child.  Even at fifteen, they emotionally are children.

I sit in meetings weekly where I am asked about formal assessments.  What sort of growth has my lower 30% made? What type of formative assessment have I given? What type of remediation am I given?  What is the next benchmark that I'm working on?  How will I remediate?

Trying to find a balance, this year especially, has been a tough one. 

(1) I say only rather tongue and cheek.


  1. I know how you feel. I began my teaching career in a school just like yours. We did have regular fights in the hallways, though. I spent almost a decade dealing with students like yours and with adult who wanted to talk about "Formative assessments." We didn't have that particular term at the time.

    All I can say is that you just have to do whatever you can do. It will be enough for some and not enough for others. We're just teachers, we cannot replace parents nor can we fix the world.

    What's different now is the sense that it's all our responsibility and therefore all our fault. There's this very clear sense in America, clear to me anyway, that teachers are now the problem.

    It looks like no one is going to change this anytime soon. My honest advice to anyone entering the profession and to anyone who is new enough to still move jobs, is to move to what is already a good school. I know how terrible that is to say, but based on Maslow's hierarchy it's the best advice I can give to anyone who intends to stay in the profession as a lifelong career at this point in American history.

    Meantime, keep doing the best you can. There will always be success stories that make it worthwhile.

  2. James you give solid advice to newbies. I'm on my eighth year at this school, and although every end of school year I have offers to go elsewhere, I can't seem to "abandon" these kids. Especially as a 7th grade teacher, I get to see them progress into 8th grade and a few still come to me from high school (which is in walking distance).

    I definitely feel the burden that you speak of though.

  3. That is so very sad :( Every kid has a right to have a chance, you know? It's so sad when they begin life with that kind of stuggle. They're lucky to have you though Christina!!

  4. OH Christina! This post literally broke my heart. Sometimes I feel like I probably live in a bit of a bubble because of how affluential my area is (both where I grew up and where I currently live). The only (ha!) problems that we really had growing up were the drug problems (we all saw the MTV specials in the 90s on Plano, Texas).

    What a special heart you have. Hugs.

  5. Although I taught in a area with minimal issues, I still remember that disconnect between administration and those who are in the classroom. I see it now in the social services agency that I work in...the social workers who work with the families and want so badly to help, versus administration who is concerned about implementing new programs and adhering to regulations.

    Your students are very lucky to have a teacher who is so concerned about them and their needs!


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