Be The Change…

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 15 2011

Stories told from Finals Week…..a very different week

Yet again, I haven’t posted in a very long time. I apologize, kind of. I don’t post every day because by the end of some days – simply existing seems to be a gift from above and I go to sleep and get up and do it again. Many times things happen and I think I should blog, but I forget (absent-minded professor?).

Nonetheless, I have survived the first semester. Since I teach high school, we get the whole week for exams. Here is my week, thus far. I write about just this week because I think it accurately symbolizes my experience as a teacher thus far:

Monday – I took my two students from study hall. One had an exemption card and didn’t have to take my test (to reward students for last year’s state test scores). The other one I have been working with A LOT. In the last 12 or so weeks, we have worked to raise his grade from a C to an A. We studied for the exam for the entire period, with pretty much no break. The student got frustrated with what he didn’t know, but I taught him some tricks and he (after laughing that they were stupid) used them. His exam was at 1:50 that afternoon.
I went through the day, my students were doing a review guide and I called them over one by one to tell them that they needed to make on the exam to pass my class. Here are three of the highlights:
1. A student who was failing, handed in some late work and got his grade up to a 67, D, after I called his mom and told him that he would fail without the work. I told him he NEEDED to study and make a good grade or he would fail for the semester.
2. A student bordering on an A/B. If she made an A on the exam, she’d get an A. If she made a B, she’d get a B. She was fired up that she WAS going to get an A.
3. A student who would have to get below a 75 C on the exam to NOT get an A. He said he wasn’t going to study.

Then the 7th period exam came. My student from morning tutoring took his test, and took his time. I graded his test before he left the room, he made a 93%. He jumped out of his chair with excitement. I told him I’d call his mom and let him know if he wanted me too – he said “YEAH!!” So, I called her around 5:30 and said I just wanted to call and brag on her son – she said he couldn’t keep the secret and had already told her and she couldn’t thank me enough for all I do for him. She then proceeded to tell me that she had been afraid about her son going to high school, but not that he has me as his teacher she knows her son is in good hands. Then (this is when I remembered why I moved to Southern Arkansas), she said: “Before this year, he lacked focus and drive – but he really likes you and you have changed his life. You’ve put him on a different track just by caring and working with him. I can’t thank you enough.” I got off the phone and tears rolled down my face. It’s moments like that that in fact make this job entirely worth the pain and hardship.

Tuesday -
My Tuesday exam included students 1 and 2 above. Student 1′s grade: 87 B, student 2′s grade: 93 A. They both passed. Student 1 got a C for the semester (far better than the F he was on track for) and student 2 made her A. Student 1 asked me after if I was proud of him: VERY. He made me remember that the more time I take to invest my students in my class and in me, the payoff will be better for both of us. He told me he studied for hours the night before, and I believe him 100%. I couldn’t be more proud. I called his mom at night and she thanked me for pushing her son academically and not giving up on him like other teachers had. I told her I’d never give up on him and I look forward to another great semester. She just chuckled and we said bye. I think she chuckled because we talked A LOT this semester, and it paid off. A great semester it was.

and finally, Wednesday
Today, I had two exams. Here are my two stories from today:
1. My morning exam is a class that I really struggle to manage. They are just loud and a bit of work. Well, needless to say I went into the exam to ensure there would NOT be problems today. I warned them if they talked I would take their test and they would get a 0 the same as the SAT/ACT. Well, one girl talked. I went to her and warned her if she continued to talk I’d take her test. She talked again, I took her test. The test ended, I called her mom. Her mom was very understanding and I explained the situation. Her mom was embarrassed. Her daughter still passes my class, but with a C instead of an A.

2. My 4th period exam. This is a VERY fun class of mine. Great personalities and we have fun learning together. Well, student 3 from above is in this class. Now, I must say I have pestered him EVERY day since Monday to tell him to study, etc. He joked that he could fail and still get an A (and he could). He turned in his test second to last and jokingly said: I made at least a 78, I bet. Well, I wanted to challenge that bet since he told me he didn’t study. I graded his test on the spot. He got a 99%. I called him up and showed him. I said: “you studied didn’t you” and he said to me: “after all the times you told me, I didn’t want to let you down.” He got the 2nd highest grade in the class. I am so proud of him.

Actually, I’m so proud of all the students mentioned above, and so many more. This week, my students have proven to me that they really do want me to come back in January. They studied and worked their butts off, and it showed. Class averages on the exam have been 86-89% on a test that is not easy, at all. I’ve spent a lot of time calling parents and bragging on students – I’m too proud of them not to share it with their parents.

And one last story: a not good one. I have/had one student who I put A LOT of energy into. This kid is GREAT, I think. He has a fun personality and he is SUPER intelligent. I found out at the start of the year he spent last year at alternative education. But, I had been working with him to turn him around and get him on track and for a while we had been doing well. But, lately he’d been distant and less talkative. I just assumed it was the holidays. Well, the day ends today and I get a message that the student is outside getting searched by the police. I immediately walk to the other end of the building to see what is going on. Just as I get there, student is arrested. Arrested and gone. He will take his exams tomorrow and then will either go back to alternative education or be expelled, but his time at our school is over……I really just can’t react to this situation. I’m FURIOUS that the student didn’t reach out, and at the same time I’m so sad for his situation that he resorts to illegal activity to make himself feel better. I just hope something can work out that his life goes on (honestly, I’d advocating for military school).

I end with that story; this is my week summary. Very high success, and yet the reality of the world that we live is enough to strike a blow to any high flying moment.

One Response

  1. Teri Cramer

    Jere, I am so proud of you, in reading your week, just makes me see that you were taught very well by some of your teachers and this tells me that you are going to be a great teacher that every kid you teach will look up to you and will leave school knowing that someone cared for them and they will carry that with them for the rest of their lives. Keep doing what you are doing. Love ya Aunt Teri

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About this Blog

A small town person with big world dreams

Region
Mississippi Delta
Grade
High School
Subject
Foreign Language

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