Each day someone had something critical to say ... true or untrue ... didn't matter, still the criticism was offered, heard, absorbed. The criticism threw me off kilter ... stymied the creative flow ... made work feel too much like work instead of the joy that teaching generally brings.
On top of that we gave a Unit test ... 2 part test ... so instead of 160 papers to grade, there were 320 papers to grade. I did the math with my students. If I spent just five minutes per paper - not much time to read through the work - it would take about 25 hours to grade them. I needed a quick turn around because the marking period ended Friday. Students needed the opportunity to see their tests, what errors they made, and to correct them if possible. That made for long nights of grading.
And then this morning I opened my email. I saw this note ...
Thanks for being [my son's] teacher. He really loves math.
And that reminded me that I had had similar notes this week ...
Thank you so much for the detailed analysis of [my son's] work.
[The videos] are very detailed and your pace has just the right balance…fast enough to keep their interest…and slow enough that they can grasp the material. Thank you for all you do!
It's good to hear [xxxxx] is doing so well. We all got a kick out of your comments in his ARD :)
I appreciate you contacting me to let me know. We will begin checking his grades weekly.
That sounds wonderful, thank you. We will support you and [xxxxx] in any way possible.
I can't tell you how relieved we were to get your reply tonight. Thank you so much for understanding and for the opportunity to place [xxxxxx] on the path for success.
You are wonderful! I was just bragging to friends that there are High School teachers who interact with parents. Thank you so much for the emails, my son doesn’t tell me anything.
Don't you wonder why even one criticism can block out all positive thoughts?
This weekend I've had time to regroup, step back, gain some perspective.
Looks like my classes are ending with 75% making As and Bs, almost 10% making Cs, almost 10% making Ds and 6% not successful YET! I'm feeling good about those results knowing the kind of expectations we had this first marking period!
In the coming week students and I will be exploring matrices ... how to solve by hand and how to solve by calculator. The lessons are very skill driven ... somewhat different than our usual focus. The pace will be a bit slower, the instruction more direct. My plan for Thursday/Friday are stations of sorts - thinking about using cheesemonkey's idea for group whiteboards and quick formative assessment.
I'm ready ... to see what the next week brings!
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