Also this year, I have been saddled with a student who cannot retain any information. Nothing, zippo, nada. I model it. I give him manipulatives. I’ve had other students tutor him. I’ve given him extra homework. I’ve given him no homework. I’ve let him investigate the topic using videos or computer games. I’ve kept him at lunch for private tutoring. If he does understand the lesson, it lasts only a short while and certainly not into the next day. He drives me crazy because he has made absolutely no lasting progress. When I see him, I see a walking “1” because that is the score he is going to get on his state exam.
Have you figured it out yet? It’s the same kid. The boy with the warmest heart can process information in the moment but not keep it or use it later. The mixed emotions he stirs in me, epitomize the current battle over my teacher’s soul. I want to appreciate and nurture all the children placed in my care but I also feel resentful when I think about how their test scores could drag down my evaluation.
One of the hallmarks of the education reform movement has been assessing teachers by measuring the progress of their students. Because I feel such tremendous pressure to show constant student growth for each and every child, I find it challenging to simply appreciate this young man's genius. Instead, I often see him as an obstacle to my being labeled an “effective teacher.”
And that makes me sick. It is not who I am as a teacher. It is not who I am as a parent. It is not who I am as a human being.
Each child deserves to be loved for the blessing that he is and for the gifts that he possesses. I am ashamed of myself. I've allowed the funhouse mirror that is the education reform movement to distort my relationship with my students. Anyone have a hammer?