One thing that I enjoy about inner-city teaching is the sense of mission. There is mission in the sense that these children need adult mentors to look up to. There is mission in the fact that many do not have positive home lives where they are encouraged to reach their full potential. There is even mission in the academics, where we can talk about real life issues like one-parent homes, street smarts and giving people second chances. However, since there is mission in the academics, that means that there is also mission in the test scores.
I will spare you the details: alot of teachers argue over the “No Child Left Behind” bill because it makes teaching all about test scores. There are teachers out there who teach only to the test because, in the end, that is how both their students and they are assessed. Kids pass the test, state board is happy, admin is happy, you keep your job, you’re happy.
This is not education. It is filling a bucket. I won’t ever do that. However, test scores make or break my classroom. So my mission this year is to find a way to improve these students’ scores on the bubble tests (general reading comprehension, analysis, higher level thinking) without compromising my beliefs.
I have about 30 students out of 95 that are failing the bubble tests everytime, and averaging everyone together, my classes are not hitting the benchmark. I have the toughest of the tough in the 10th grade: majorly at risk and a few years behind. To catch them up to speed will take all year. This is a mission that I could possibly fail, but without the risk of failure, there isn’t any sense of mission at all. I signed up for a risky mission, and I have one.
If any friends ever want to come to help tutor my kids, just let me know. I will make sure you get community service points, maybe even a write-off on taxes.