I'm supposed to prepare my students to take the regents in June. That means that I need to start covering ground much quicker. So last week I assigned almost the entire chapter one for homework. I just finished grading it. Aurgh!!! 93 flipping annoying problems. The results were abysmal: 64%, 60%, 48%. This was supposed to be a review of what they learned in past. But it's hardly surprising that they did so poorly. I didn't spend any time time in class going over it.
Now here's my dilemma. Should I spend time tomorrow discussing chapter one? But we need to go full steam ahead to meet the deadline. And if I spend tomorrow doing chapter one, I won't be able to assign stuff from chapter two for homework.
Should I just move on to chapter two? How can I teach more when they have shaky foundations? What if I review the stuff in chapter one that's relevant to the immediate future and deal with the other stuff later. But that will make my lesson plan even more disordered than it is already. I feel guilty not covering the material in order. A good teacher should have a clear lesson plan. If my lesson plan is so jumbled, that means I'm...
Now we've moved from practical questions like what to teach to value judgments like "good teacher," "responsible teacher," and ch"v the opposites. Which brings us to everyone's favorite value judgment: blame.
So who's to blame for my students imperfect education? Not them. They're kids. They don't take the homework as seriously as I want them to, but they do do it and hand it in on time. And of course they make mistakes--they had 93 flipping problems and they hadn't been taught this stuff since god-knows-when.
Am I to blame? I never had a chance to teach them this stuff. I think that if I explained to them how to do the problems they would do well.
Well why am I not given the opportunity to teach? Because I was hired in November instead of in August. Because I was hired to teach only once a week. Because nobody had told me what I was expected to teach or what they had already learned.
They still haven't arranged for me to start teaching twice a week (as if that would solve they're problems. In order for these kids to be ready by June, they'd need me to teach them five times a week!)
And here's what really pisses me off: kids all over learn math as a series a steps to follow in order to solve a problem. They never understand what the problem represents. The kids work way too hard remembering which steps belong to which problems instead of opening their minds. Or they focus on which types of problems they'll be tested on and which types they won't. Or they focus on which format their answers must be written in. This is wrong! I beg you, o powers that be, let me teach them algebra and trigonometry, not how to pass some stupid test!!
I shouldn't feel bad that the kids didn't do well on the homework or that the average grade on the exam I gave them was 70%. That's not my fault. I'm giving the kids the best education possible under the circumstances.
But I see the results of the authorities' irresponsibility--not them. So how can I not feel responsible?
So here's my moral dilemma. What do I teach tomorrow? Do I go over chapter one until the understand it, or do I rush onto chapter two? Was I hired to teach math, or was I hired to prepare kids for the damn Regents?