Is it sad that I got my first validation that 1) I'm a good teacher and 2) I got fucked over my first year tonight when presenting my wonderful kids to the "waiver committee?".
I know a lot of non-teachers won't understand this post, and even teachers not familiar with NC's process may not either. I just have to express how I'm feeling about today.
I mentioned that I have to take my kids who didn't pass the standardized test to be presented and "waived" of being held to the testing standard. I had 8 kids already pass through based on good grades and 8 more to present to the committee. Basically committees are made up if teachers from other schools in the county. They've been "trained" and hold the fate of my kids in their hands.
After having the blow of almost all my kids failing Reading and Math tests, it has been a shit storm of collecting work samples and paper work for 16 kids. I wad lucky that another teacher helped tremendously with some of my 7th grade kids.
Today, I was nervous. I have the most waiver folders. I had to carry around a huge crate to hold the work sample folders as well as each student's special education folder. I literally have massive, nasty bruises on my thighs from carrying it. I wad scared of not knowing what to say, of not having enough work samples, of forgetting something, and/or of my kids not being waived (which means they repeat their current grade). I had two students I was particularly worried about who didn't meet their "target score."
I was lucky enough to have another teacher sit in with me on the first meeting. I didn't say much, but the student was passed. After that, I was on my own. These are my babies! 8th graders, but they're still babies. We had our meetings with the parents who attended. I talked these kids up, and I talked from the heart. I know/knew them and my opinion mattered. After the first four meetings (with parents took place), I felt like I knew the committee, and I was comfortable. They passed on those four, and I presented the last four by myself.
I had mentioned that I don't fluff my kids grades. I teach small, "resource" classes which my 8th graders will not have in high school. They need to be prepared for the real deal. I use the same tests as the other classes. I don't fluff, but I allow them additional opportunities to even out their grades. The committee praised me for this. I felt validated.
I stared talking about my 3 preps (preparing for 3 curriculums to teach daily...language arts, 8th grade & 7th grade math). The committee was shocked. Then I mentioned I was a first year teacher. Double shock. Then that I'm a career switcher (no schooling in education or student teaching). Triple shock. One said, "And you're planning to teach again next year?!" Not to mention the crazy, too full, terrible behavior class. I felt validated.
Seeing all my kids' growth, even though they technically "failed" the tests, I'm overwhelmed with pride. They have made growth. I'm so proud of them. I'm so proud of me. No one has really validated my feelings or bitching this year (minus one teacher a while back). It felt wonderful to feel understood.
Today was a turning point. You know of my desire to teach at an elementary school. I connect so much better with that age group. There are still days, only in my language arts classes, that I think I want to/ could see myself doing this again next year. It would have to be different (no math?), but I know it'd be better. Today, I felt it two-fold. I have done a good job. I have succeeded through all the crap I've been placed in. I'm grateful I stuck through this year. If nothing, this feeling today is worth it.
Bravo if you read this entire, wordy post. I just had go document this emotional milestone.