Wow. I can officially say I have made it half way through my first year. It has not been nearly as traumatic as I had anticipated, but it has had plenty of ups and downs.
HUGE DOWN – my students on the whole decided not to take their semester exams seriously and had embarrassingly low scores. The part that made me angry was that they tried to blame their laziness on me (that the test was too hard). When I held them accountable today, they took responsibility. No knowing if they will do any better this semester, but – as I reminded them – I refuse to lower my expectations to their level of performance. They can keep trying, but I’m one tough cookie!
GIGANTIC UP – after feeling like I was run over by a truck at the exam results, I was reading some comments by my freshmen students. One of the essay options on their exam was to discuss how this Principles of Science course is different than the science classes they took in middle school. The following two responses melted my heart and reminded me exactly why I am a teacher:
Principles of Science is different because we go over all the stuff our other teachers missed. It’s like digging up secrets every day.
This class is different because we learn stuff and the teacher has high expectations.
The comments came from the most unlikely students. The irony was that the class that has the most behavior issues and drives me the most crazy had the best exam results and talked me down from my frustrated teacher ledge.
Now it’s a new semester and some things are changing, but mostly I am encouraging my students to reach higher goals, push themselves harder, ask for help more often, and have more confidence in their abilities. Two new implementations into the 9th grade classes:
1. Pencil Sign Out List – I tried this during the exam and it worked really well. I even personalized the pencils to deter pencil thieves:
2. McCoupons – each of my 9th graders will get 4 McCoupons per quarter to use towards bathroom passes or missing assignments. They will be responsible for keeping track of them:
I am excited about this semester – there is none of the awkwardness of creating rapport with new students and we can get right down to business. With that said – I’m off to review my Big Bang and Pendulum/Intro to Waves lessons!