I know. I haven't updated in a long time! The girls are doing great- talking so much! They are at a really fun age. Tonight they were running around, laughing and giggling so much. I couldn't help but think of when I was little and went to sleepovers with my best friend. And they will have that every night! Although, that could always turn out to be a headache for me. But seriously, it is awesome. They are so lucky to have each other. I am quite jealous, because when I was little, I had nobody. Literally. No brothers or sisters (until I was 7), and no kids lived in the neighborhood I did. In some ways it was good for me to be on my own, but I definitely missed out on some socializing. Anyway, this age is great!
What I really wanted to write about was school. Work. It has been a tough year. After about 3 years of being out of the classroom, I went back in. That was a bit of an adjustment at first, but I did realize I really like being in the classroom. It must be a control thing. I can run my class how I want when it is mine. When I coach other teachers, I don't have that control. Of course, it is always great to work with teachers who want to try new things, but at the schools I worked at, this was few and far between.
I love my students this year. They are very interesting. They are not as "tough" as the students at the first middle school I worked at, yet they do come from rough backgrounds. Before the year started, other teachers would talk about how "low" they were, but their test scores indicated that they really weren't that low. I was used to working with all Far Below, and Below Basic kids. However, most of the eighth graders exhibited behaviors consistent with lower scoring students. I worked really hard with all my students, as I always do. This year was a bit different though since I am in a K-8 school, and the class sizes in seventh and eighth grade are super small. My largest class has 20. That has allowed me to get closer to the students, which has really been great for some- most- kids.
One student came after the year started, she had been kicked out of another local middle school. She seemed fairly "tough" and her skills weren't that high, and she didn't like to read. Her turn around has been amazing. Somehow, the chip on her shoulder came off, she started trying and saw that she could indeed succeed, and she now loves reading! I turned a non-reader into a reader. That is the best thing I can do. She went from having all Fs and Ds to an A in English and Science and Bs in other classes. She is so proud of herself, and that is awesome to see. I think if she had stayed in a typical middle school, she would not have been this successful.
Many of my students claimed they didn't really like reading at the beginning of the year. By the second semester, most of them changed their minds. They got just as excited as I do when I would get new books. Most of them started getting As and Bs in their classes. They went from testing Basic to testing Proficient and Advanced. Not that I think the tests are all that. But they do have some merit and students do feel proud when they do well. I definitely did not teach to the test, and real reading, writing, and thinking is always key in my classroom, and I know this is why they succeeded. I don't think I have ever been so proud of a whole group of 7th and 8th graders as I am of these.