Drama…

January 2, 2014

My final exam days were full of drama.  I am going to give the short version of the stories.

I gave my final online.  I have done this every semester since I have been teaching high school and I have never had any problems.  Until this year.

The first day of finals went fine.  The second day was different.  The site crashed while my students were trying to log in.  I did not have paper copies ready (which I have done in the past).  I almost had a meltdown.  Once I calmed down and started to think clearly, I was able to figure out a solution.  Halfway though the class, I got copies finished.  I told the kids to come during lunch and/or after school to finish.  Next time, I will have hard copies ready.  So much for trying to save paper.

Later that day, there was more drama.  Long story short, an AP student had her own meltdown and panic attack, to the point of having to go to the nurse because she couldn’t breathe.  The reason for this was that she realized that she was likely going to get a B for the semester, not an A.  She was worried about her GPA and rank dropping.  On one hand, I understand, because I would have freaked out if I got a B.  On the other hand, she has already gotten in to A&M which is where she is going and they are not going to revoke someone’s admission for getting one B in an AP class.  She is in the top 10%, but I don’t think she is so high that it is going to prevent her from being valedictorian or anything.  I used to be able to check a student’s rank, but they took that away this year.  I hate that.

-J

Finals…

December 18, 2013

Finals started today and continue through Friday.  Since I have been teaching high school, I have been using an online program to give my final.  I like it because I don’t have to run scantrons and the students get to see their score immediately.  Another advantage is that the program randomizes the questions and answer choices.  I love it and would recommend it.

There was an unforeseen consequence that I didn’t realize until today.  Last year, I did not have a single student fail my class for the semester.  Not so much this semester.  I have several students who are going to fail and most of them are in my AP classes.  So when students see their final exam grade and realize that they are going to fail the class, it is not good.

I had one boy start to cry.  I had a girl crying and I looked at her score and her grades and the only thing I can think of is that she was upset because this class is going to be her only B.  I didn’t speak to her, because I don’t do well around crying people (and also babies, but I don’t know how much that has to do with the crying).

I had one kid who I knew was going to fail.  This was the kid whose mother I made cry.  In order to pass the class, he needed an 87 on the final (actually a little less with rounding).  He scored in the mid-40s and ended up with a 66 for the semester.  He asked me if he could retest.  Normally, we have to allow students to retest for up to a 70, but not for finals.  I told him no and he was upset.  He was pleading and arguing. 

I asked him if he turned in his review (for extra credit on the exam).  He said that he didn’t have time to finish it and wanted to turn it in tomorrow.  I said no.  I made in clear in class and it was written in the instructions that it had to be turned in before the start of the exam.  There is no point in completing a review after the exam.  He continued to plead and argue (and later went to his assistant principal and asked).  He finally said, “you are making me feel like a dumb ass.”  I wanted to say, “no, you are doing fine with that on your own.”  I didn’t.  I walked away.

I guess that I could be very nice and let him retest.  If I let him retest to a 70, that won’t be enough.  If I let him retest for full credit, that will likely not be enough either.  In the past I have given him his test to study and given him the same test as a retest (with the questions scrambled) and he has still never passed a test.  What I am most afraid of is letting him retest and him getting very close to passing for the semester.  Then there is pressure to bump his grade up.  With the 66, the pressure is not there.

I feel bad that I have kids who failed.  This is the first time ever that I have had a student who did not earn credit for the class, even when I taught middle school.  It had to happen eventually, although, it will be worse when it happens for the first time in the spring, when the kid doesn’t graduate. 

I do not feel too bad for this kid though.  He failed the first two six weeks (one of them with a 60). He did pass this six weeks, but not enough to make for the 60.  I spoke to both him and his mom about moving him out of AP and into a regular class and they both said no.  The counselor spoke to mom as well.  One of the assistant principals told me that if they are refusing the help, then we will need to let him live with the failing grade if (or really when) it happens.

I am going to have to call his mom again to let her know.  I am not looking forward to that.  I am going to call her on Friday afternoon, so she can’t ask me to give him a retest or (extra) extra credit.

-J

My colleague…

December 18, 2013

This year, we have a bigger senior class, so we have another government teacher.  He teaches regular government and I have a few sections.  I thought it would be a blessing, but sometimes I feel like it is more of a curse. 

He has taught government before and he is passionate about the subject, but I still do most of the work, in addition to the work I do for my AP classes.  Also, he is a coach.  There are some coaches who are great teachers, but as you may know from high school, they are in the minority.

Yesterday, a student came in to retake a test for him during lunch when he wasn’t there.  She walked away with the test (the teacher who had lunch tutorials told me, I don’t know how or why this happened while she was there, but that is a different story).  I told him and he said that she turned in the test to him and got a 100.  She had scored a 35 on the original test.  He said that he was going to give her a 70 on the test (which is the max score on a retest).  He said it was too much trouble to do anything about it.  I was appalled.  I spoke to the girl’s assistant principal and she said she can’t do anything unless he reports it as a cheating issue.

And then things got worse today.

Finals started today.  We were reviewing in the classes that didn’t test today and I realized that he posted the answers to the review.  Normally, I would have done the same myself, so the kids can check their work.  However, the review counts as extra credit on their final exam.  This meant that the kids can just go online, copy the answers, and get the extra credit without any effort.  I confronted him about it and he said that most of his kids didn’t turn it in and their scores were terrible on the final.  Well, that is because they didn’t learn anything from the review.  I am interested to see how the scores will compare on our final exams.

-J

I made a parent cry today…

November 4, 2013

That was a first.

I started calling parents of students who are failing.  This one kid is in danger of failing my AP class for the semester.  I told mom that and told her that we might need to switch her son to an on-level class for the rest of the semester.  She does not want to move him because she wants the AP on his transcript for college.  I tried to explain to her that it is more important that he get credit for the class to graduate.

I do feel sorry for her, but at the same time, which is more important?  I guess we are not in agreement on that.

-J

Another year…

September 1, 2013

This past week we went back to school. This is the beginning of my 5th year. It is hard to believe it has been that long already. I am really looking forward to this year, I think it will be a good year.

There are a few things that are going to make things tougher. The first is teaching AP economics. Also, I am now sponsoring three organizations (NHS, a UIL team and the group that runs that flags at football games). The other challenge is that I have a student who is blind. She is really smart, but it is going to require me to be more prepared so I can get her materials in time.

Hopefully I can use some time this holiday weekend to get ahead.

-J

Summer school…

July 31, 2013

Today was my last day to work summer school.  This was the easiest job ever.  The work is all online and I am just there to answer questions, four days a week from 8 to 12.  Most of the students work at home, but some come to school to work.

They had to have a teacher for each core area and I was the social studies teacher on duty and there were no kids who showed up to work on social studies.  I did have to be there for their finals and sign off when they finished.

I did have a few things to do.  Mostly I monitored their progress and made phone calls to parents if their kids were far behind.  Most of the time I read (usually my AP economics textbook) or did something to keep me busy.

I have two more weeks until I go back and three weeks until school starts.  It will be nice to have a little time off, but it was also nice to have a little work to do.  I will definitely enjoy that next paycheck.

-J

AP Scores…

July 10, 2013

Tomorrow I will find out my students AP scores.  The closer it get, the more anxious I get.  The students have been able to see their scores since Saturday.  I was hoping that I would hear something, but I haven’t heard anything.

I started working summer school today.  I don’t know if I will have any good stories, but I will share.

As I was leaving school today, I ran into one of my students.  I asked him what he made and he said he checked but he was in a hurry so he didn’t look at his government score.  I wanted to punch him in the face.  I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised since the reason he was at school is because he finally decided to pick up his diploma.

-J

Next year…

June 12, 2013

I found out today that in addition to government, I will also be teaching AP Macroeconomics next year. This is not a surprise, since I volunteered.

Our economics teacher is leaving to go to another district. There were a lot of people on our department who wanted his job (probably because they think seniors are easy). However, most of them are coaches and they are not going to let a coach teach AP classes. We were talking and it was brought up that I should teach AP Econ. Before this, I had never even considered the possibility of teaching economics, let alone AP.

I was talking to our economics teacher about it and he said that it shouldn’t be an problem for me and he told me to talk to our department head. Our department head told me to talk to our associate principal. She told me that it was something that they had discussed and that it was good to know that I was interested. The only condition that I had was that I want all AP government classes to be one semester and all AP economics classes to in the other semester. I told her that if they had someone else in mind, I would not be upset. She also said that they would talk about it more after graduation. This all happened in a span of about five minutes on the last day of school.

When the phone rang today, I immediately knew what she was going to say. I very nervous. I have a lot to learn and it will be a lot of work. I was nervous about teaching AP government, but I knew a lot more going in, since I was a political science major. The only economics classes I have taken were dual credit economy’s in high school and a graduate class on international economics. How is it that I have gotten to teach AP classes without having taught the regular courses first?

This will all make for a busy year. In addition to my classes, which should be government, AP government, and AP economics, I will also be a sponsor for NHS and a coach for UIL correct events.

-J

Graduation…

June 12, 2013

We had our graduation earlier this week. This was the first time that I have gotten to see students of mine to graduate. I really enjoyed it. The best part was that the ceremony was about an hour and fifteen minutes long.

-J

Today was the last day…

June 5, 2013

And it was actually a lot of fun. The seniors planned a BBQ and we got released from class to go. What strayed as a few students planning to skip class turned into an official event.

It was a blast. The kids brought a lot of water balloons and I pegged many of them. They also brought three beer long tables, but they weren’t using alcohol. I am certain of this because they were not drinking it.

When school got out, they were outside, ready to throw water balloons at the underclassmen.

In other news, I am all packed up and ready to go. We have to work tomorrow, but I really don’t have anything to do. We have graduation practice and we get a half day if we are working graduation, which I am.

-J