Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor: Today, Yesterday, Tomorrow

Labor Day traditionally marked the last day of summer break for our nation's younguns. Many folks claim that the duration of summer break originated due to the need for children to be at home to work on the family farm. This may just be a rural myth. But, myth or no, it seems that the start of school is creeping inexorably into the month of August in many districts. On this Labor Day, I find myself enjoying a three-day weekend after a week and a half of classes (and two and a half weeks of contract days).

So, what has our first full week wrought? Well, for starters, I think I have some good classes. Academically, they seem average or below, but, behaviorally, they seem to be on the ball. I can work with that. I wonder, however, about the strengths that my students possess. I have a range of kids, like always, from those who struggle to put two sentences together, to those who, by virtue of the class they registered for, are capable of (or willing to try) thinking in an analytically and critically advanced manner. So far, the sentence-level challenged are performing up to their previously-demonstrated abilities. The "advanced" students, on the other hand, aren't showing me a whole lot.

In other districts, I have had the pleasure to work with the same range of students. I know that some of the more academically challenged kids are doing the best they can, and that some of them may make great strides this term, given the right combination of challenge and support. But, I am concerned that maybe my more advanced students aren't as advanced as I wish them to be (or--more troubling--aren't as advanced as they think they are). After all, they should be preparing for AP classes in their future, but, except for one or two of them (so far), I don't see that happening. But, that being the case, and, in a similar vein to any student, given the right combination of challenge and support, they may make great strides this term. Perhaps some of the kids at that other school where I used to teach just spoiled me.

Whatever the case may be, I hope to grow this year, as I hope for every year, into a better teacher, a better colleague, and a better person. And, with the right combination of challenge and support, I may make great strides!

1 comment:

La Fashionista said...

I happen to find myself very advanced and am sure that you would concur.

DC public schools are in appalling shape. The Washington Post has done an interesting series, and check out this innovative disbursement of funding. Call me crazy and old-fashioned, but I think that money should to go the teachers instead. The new "chancellor" for the DC public school system sure seems completely inept to me.

Also, I have a slightly different observation about Labor Day. How is it that as I am relaxing during the holiday I notice all kinds of laborers laboring? I saw trash collectors, street cleaners - all kinds of people who have physically more demanding jobs than I have - working on Labor Day while I enjoyed my paid holiday. The inequities in this country are insidious and everywhere. It makes me angry and discouraged.

I will now step down from the soap box.

I wish you all the best in providing the best mix of challenge and support to help your children reach their potential. I hope that you have a great year.