Middle School Hero

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 11 2012

Benchmark Results

It’s been a long and crazy semester, but recently we received a glimmer of hope. Over the course of the past week, the results from our state-mandated benchmarks have been trickling in and we’ve been seeing real growth! Even though we only improved from 3% passing to 9% passing, I choose to look at that as a tripling of our scores. Additionally, many of our students moved from “far below expectations” to “below expectations”. Even though I have spent much of this semester groping aimlessly in the darkness that is the life of an inexperienced teacher, somehow progress is happening.

I honestly believe that in the time between right now and the end of February (when we take our next set of benchmarks), we will see a tremendous growth in many students. My co-teacher is also a first year corps member and the two of us have learned so much over the last semester and our students are going to benefit from it.

And honestly, this change is happening all over school. Yes, 91% of my kids still failed this benchmark. I understand that it doesn’t seem like a very hopeful situation, but you should have seen this school when I came here in August. The building was a wreck, still under heavy construction. Nearly half the teachers had no teaching expererience. Teacher absences were commonplace and the administration was never available because they spent so much time fighting with the board for materials, for construction progress, for everything.

But now, there’s a whole new vibe to the school. the students have finally realized that these new teachers aren’t going anywhere. Yes, we are actually going to grade your work. No, you cannot bring drugs to school. Yes, we will spend our time after school calling your parents. No, the parking won’t be empty by 4:30.

Teaching at this school has been a tremendous challenge. It wasn’t the culture or placement that I was at first given and that in and of itself has made for some adjustment difficulties. However, one of the things that did excite me was the opportunity to see the culture of a school change from the inside out. And now, I feel like that opportunity is coming to fruition.

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Chronicling teaching middle school English in OKC

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