Friday, June 24, 2011

Week 3: Positives and Negatives of Summer School

When I first started my blog, my goal was for it to serve as an outlet for me to reflect on my teaching experiences. I wanted to try to keep it light and mostly positive.

So, as I have been teaching summer school for three weeks now, I decided to come up with a list of positives and negatives of being a summer school teacher.

*BACKGROUND-My husband, myself and another teacher are teaching Reading to a group of 17 kids who have failed the state standardized test twice. They come from various backgrounds and five middle schools in our district.

1. THE MONEY—Part I. Three weeks ago I would not have put this at the top of my list of positives, but trust me, after three weeks--summer school teachers deserve every penny.
2. THE MONEY—Part II. Teaching summer school gives me an opportunity to do something besides spend money. In the summer I have an awful habit of just going shopping, our out to eat.
3. HELPS ME OCCUPY MY TIME--When I am home in the summer time, I am usually very bored. I am so used to going, going, going, during the school year I don’t know what to do with my time when I have a moment off.
4. NEW KIDS--I get to work with new kids I don’t know. Many of our kids are awesome and it is puzzling to me as to why/how they have all these gaps in their knowledge.
5. EASY WORK—It is really not that hard to teach summer school. We had two days to plan before summer school started. Plus, the subject matter is fairly easy for a “somewhat intelligent person.” I keep reminding myself, “You have a college degree. These lovely kids…well, they do not.”
6. SMALL CLASS SIZES—With a 10:1 ratio, you have the opportunity for a lot more individualized instruction your struggling students.

1. NEW KIDS who have a history of struggling—Your summer school kids don’t know you (or your teaching style) and in only 14 instructional days, you have a very limited amount of time to build rapport with them and get them up to speed.
2. TEACHING TO THE TEST—I hate to say it, but the goal for us is to get our kids to pass the state standardized test. So, in everything we do, we have that goal in mind. We have to give them practice and that means practice test questions and lots of reading passages.
3. BORING and slightly painful—Because I am a “somewhat intelligent person” and I know what I need to do to pass a Reading test, the work is quite boring. We find reading passages for the kids, give them multiple choice tests, and give them feedback.
4. NOT MY STYLE OF TEACHING see Negative Number 2 and 3—the best part of being a teacher is coming up with creative lessons and getting the kids excited about the subject matter. There are only so many ways to make a standardized test = FUN.
5. IT’S SUMMER, RIGHT?—Because you teach summer school, you don’t have a true summer off. I wake up every day at 5:30am and I usually get home from summer school about 3:00pm—which doesn’t leave me with a lot of extra time to do “summer stuff.”

In the spirit of staying positive, however, I am going to end my list of negatives and remind myself…

In the end, the new fence we get for our dog and our vacation to Las Vegas will be worth the loss of summer vacation…Right? Plus, maybe we will get a few more kids to pass the Reading test, so they can go on to high school.

Happy Weekend...only three more days of summer school.

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