Statistics and crime map…
Feb 16 Published in Remembrance, Reflections by Purple
This is a continuation of my journal from my 2001-2002 school year. Please read the previous posts to give this entry context.
This is what we should call minimum days. The forty-two minute periods are useless for instruction. We accrue some minutes toward the state-required seat time, but the minutes are essentially empty, a sham, a fraud perpetrated on our students and parents and a waste of teachers’ time.
I collected late essays, went over the homework on adverbs, reviewed the musical devices we studied with Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Bells:” assonance, alliteration, consonance and onomatopoeia, and assigned a worksheet on verbs. In other words, I checked in and reviewed, but there were no new concepts introduced.
I got the students to talk enough to learn that Becky was suspended for fighting a girl, apparently quite a bit smaller, who had the audacity to say she wasn’t afraid of Becky.
After our six shortened class periods, the staff met in the Mello Center for a presentation from Eleanor, the Pulliam Group representative. She is a very teacherly presenter: organized, soft-spoken, unflappable, well informed and competent. She’s a smart choice for the job. About sixty. Even though her hair is dyed brown and coiffed, and she wears acrylic nails and dress suits, she still has the rounding shoulders and impending dowager’s hump of an older lady. Even the most callous faculty member would feel ashamed to vent all his anger at her.
I can feel our staff wanting to glom on to her leadership. The task before us is daunting and our own leadership is so tenuous: our principal is leaving, one vice-principal is gone, and another vice-principal is brand new. One vice-principal is well respected, having come out of our ranks, but he can’t be far from retirement. That leaves only one other vice-principal. And this type of situation is the norm.
Our basic task is to look at the academic performance indicators from standardized tests and to figure out how to move our students’ present score of 479 toward the acceptable score of 800. Realizing that this can’t happen overnight, the state has a formula. A school subtracts its present score from the 800 target and multiplies times .05. The result is the growth target. We need to raise our scores 16.05 points to satisfy the state and to avoid possible takeover. Our task is to figure out how to do that.
I handed out release forms to my sixth period students today. They inform the parents what I am up to with my book. Parents have the opportunity to give me permission to use their child’s real first name. Otherwise I’ll be using fictional names. They can also give or deny permission to use photographs of their child.
Lupe was the most excited. “Am I in it?”
“You feature very prominently, Lupe.”
“Will you tell us when the book comes out?”
“It may not ever come out and if it does, it may be years from now.”
“Well, will you contact us?”
I had to tell her, that unfortunately, I probably would not. “You will just have to watch for a book by Vinnie Hansen.”
We did some Mad Libs as a way to review parts of speech. The students really enjoyed them. Some of the students read their results to the class. Amanda read and laughed so hard she couldn’t get through the story. She kept stopping and fanning her face and throwing her hair back trying to gain composure.
It was nice to see her participating and happy.
After school we had another meeting with Eleanor. The English Department and one representative from each of the other departments met with her. The meeting lasted until five thirty.
Before class, I had a little chat with Popo. I received an email from his math teacher; the math teacher had caught him copying another student’s verb homework. The other student told me that she’d loaned Popo her paper because he couldn’t find his worksheet. Popo told me that he’d borrowed her paper because he had trouble reading the print on the sheet. The students had to correct verb tense problems in a story about the origination of Valentine’s Day. The text was printed white on black, so it may have been particularly hard to read. It became a moot point, since Popo didn’t turn in the work anyway.
Red shirts abound today. Red shirts for Sheridan and Xochitl and Amanda. Soledad carried in a vase with a rose in it. Many students had received candies and cards. Elizabeth had donned a sparkly, spandex maroon shirt. She strikes me as one of my students least likely to dream of modeling, but with the most potential for it. Her tall, bony figure, her blunt cut dark hair and even her movements remind me of the Sarah character on CSI.
Diana was the first to return her release form with her mother giving me permission to use her real name and photographs of Diana. That’s probably because I taught Diana’s sister last year and her mother knows me a little.
After class, Popo stayed to check on his grade, a good thing since he’s currently at a D-. Elizabeth and Amanda waited by the door. When Popo got to the door, Elizabeth said, “I guess I gotta do this.” She grabbed Popo by both cheeks and planted a big wet one on the side of his face. My guess: some sort of bet or dare, probably from Amanda.