Sorry for the late post, I caught the black teacher plague and have been unable to write. Well, at least unwilling to write. This was the last week before trimester finals! Here in geometry class, we finished up the final paper for our project and began the review process. This week, I created my trimester final in Eduphoria, using test questions aligned to TEKS, and I created a review based on the final. Exciting.

The week started out relaxed enough with a professional development day on STAAR testing. The information was necessary, but it is mind-numbingly difficult to understand why I have to go through state mandated retraining every year, or why it is written into Texas law that I can lose my teaching certification and be charged with a misdemeanor if I administer the test incorrectly. Apparently this particular training was the most engaging and condensed form since the STAAR test’s inception. It’s horrifying that after years of practice this is what we’re left with. But oh well, if it’s the worst thing that ever happens to me, once a year, then I’ll live a happy life. Training took all morning, and when we broke for lunch my department head took us all out. After lunch, we met as a campus to discuss possible changes to club and intervention time, and then met in our department teams to discuss the finals schedule as well as collecting a writing sample in our content sometime in the next month. The workday ended with the first year teacher coffee social at central office. The coffee social was catered by McDonald’s… Seriously. But hey, free coffee and cookies!

My class finished up their final papers, and I’m currently in the process of grading them. I was shocked to see the variation in quality, especially since students worked on each section as we moved through the accompanying geometry content. It made me realize that I need to provide students opportunities to receive feedback from one another, because they care so much more when other students see their work. My students started the review the day after they turned in their papers; it covered topics from ten weeks ago and turned into a significant source of stress for my students.

Speaking of stress, I made a kid cry this week. It was incredibly uncomfortable and unexpected. I told them that they were incredibly intelligent and that I was disappointed that they wouldn’t attempt the problem. I don’t believe what I said was inappropriate, but I was not prepared for the student to break down in front of me. In the future I think I’ll try to avoid the word ‘disappointed’. I can see how it could be a triggering word if a student hears that word frequently at home, but I do think that it is a worthwhile motivator for a student. It is objectively terrible to tell a student that I’m disappointed with their failure, but I think that some students need to hear that it is unacceptable to not try a problem. It’s something for me to think on and discuss with my instructional coach in the future.

My workload has been somewhat lighter than usual. I only worked past eight once during the week. I mean, that one time I worked till 1:00 am, but it was only once, because I had to make my trimester final for the following week as well as a comprehensive review. I made the final on Eduphoria, an education website that has a question bank tagged according to each standard the question addresses. My test feels really simple. It’s an odd feeling. I’m sure that this is just because it’s my first time making a test like this, but it feels overly easy. I’ve discussed it with my instructional coach and we’re going to meet some time next week and make conclusions based on how the students perform.

I also started some new classroom procedures this week. I designated a small whiteboard to act as a line of sorts for when my class is engaged in a workshop. As we’re working through an activity, students can write their name down on the board in order to notify me of a question. This has greatly reduced the number of times that I’m interrupted by students asking questions. The whiteboard has made it impossible for me to forget about a student who has asked for me to stop by their table next. Another norm that I’ve started is a pencil checkout sheet. It’s working wonders. I copied it from an elementary school teacher in the district and I thought it would be silly and ineffective, but since its implementation, I’ve only lost one pencil.

This was a very chill week, and next week will be even more boring. I’m not the biggest fan of pacing around doing nothing while my students test, but it will be nice to catch up on my grading and planning time.

See you in space cowboy,

Noah Ledbetter