Some Bad News

I have to apologize to anyone who's been reading my blog since the beginning. Those were frustrating and sometimes hopeless days. And back then one of my only consolations was looking forward to this time of year and anticipating how good it would feel. I'm sorry to say that feeling hasn't materialized just yet.

It's true. I only have 7 days of school left. And the idea of summer's freedom blows my mind. But approaching the end of this year of many peaks and valleys I've unexpectedly found myself in another hole.

It's not the kids. I don't know if they're capable any longer of doing anything to truly make me feel defeated. Although they have tested my patience to its limits the past couple of days. Instead it's my school's environment and my own self-reflection that's bringing me down.

On the first matter I recently found out that I've been assigned to kindergarten next year. I wish I was a positive enough person to be excited by this new challenge and jump to face it head on. Instead it feels like a demotion. Or perhaps a subtle way of pushing me out the door. Even if it's neither of these things (I think I've become a bit paranoid lately) it still doesn't seem like a way to build on everything I've learned this year.

Instead of growing more comfortable using the lessons I've learned this year, I'll be in a completely new environment. In educational psychology there's a concept describing the ideal balance between new and old knowledge called the zone of proximal development. Simply put, I think I'll be way outside this zone.

Beyond the challenges of my school I've felt a heavy sense of guilt, regret and sadness. 'Why did I choose to do this in the first place?' I've been wondering. Last year I explained to friends and family I was excited for the chance to grow and gain life experience. If that's the case than has this all been a selfish exercise? 'No it hasn't,' I reassure myself, because deep down I love my students and would do anything to help them grow and succeed.

But it's that same love that's killing me now. Because the test scores have come back. And wanting them to succeed wasn't enough. And while the ELA scores were a mixed bag of improvement and decline, the math scores were a failure. 14 students scored at least 1 level below last year's score. I don't know how I could have let my students down more. And there's plenty of explanations and rationalizations and ways to make myself feel better by blaming the test or whatever, but at the end of the day the test was implemented to make me accountable and I'm not going to shirk that responsibility.

Am I proud I made it this far? Of course. Especially considering I once pondered walking out mid-day. But was I maybe missing the point? It doesn't matter if I made it if I left my students behind in the process.


asdfuiop said…
You taught 4th grade, right? I don't think it's that uncommon for test scores to decline from 3rd to 4th grade because the curriculum changes significantly. K-3 are primary grades, students are expected to be getting the basics, after 3rd grade they are expected to start synthesizing - reading to learn, as opposed to learning to read, as it's said. Not to let you "off the hook," but the teacher is only one factor in a student's success or failure. After third grade, the ones that never made it to grade level will tend to fall further and further behind - the curriculum leaves them there, and we do what we can to make it up.

Please don't feel like you've been demoted! Kindergarten is a year of profound learning and changes - it's anything but a putdown to be trusted with these young students. It's the year when they are supposed to be learning how to be in school, and it sets them up for everything that comes later.

If you really want to stay in 4th grade, you should talk to your HR department, they may be able to accommodate you, but I hope you'll give this new challenge a try - it may turn out to be much different than you imagine.

And congratulations for completing the year!
Marcy said…
I co-sign with hatdog.

I hope that you can view the kindergarten situation as one of growth and opportunity. Give it a try!

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