Monday, February 25, 2008

Sometimes I write good emails and then post them here

The Washington City Paper published an article about my school. You can read it here.

I sent this link to a bunch of family members and friends last night. Already I've gotten a number of emails saying how shocked they are and how they didn't realize my school was this bad, etc. I wrote a response to one of those emails (which I love because it makes me realized that people care and want to listen and help). It is a fairly long email...much longer than I normally write. But it gives a lot of details that some might find interesting and helpful in understanding why I get so frustrated in my job and also why I like it.

Yeah, actually my school is pretty good on the scale of DCPS. But yes, it has been very rough and tumble. There are many many days where I feel like it is a waste of my time to be there when so many of the kids don't want to be there, don't want to learn anything. It is hard to stay motivated. Especially on days when someone sets a fire and half the school leaves and then the administration doesn't tell anyone what is going on. What is not mentioned in the article is that, on that day, the day of the fire a couple weeks ago, after the students who were left were herded back inside, EVERYONE sat in the auditorium for about 40 minutes. Then the students were dismissed to finish lunch. Then they were herded back into the auditorium. The administration had 4th period teachers take attendance (which was a crazy task in itself) and then...we sat. The administration left. Did not tell teachers what was going on. We were left there to babysit about 150 kids in the auditorium until the end of the day with no instructions or any knowledge of what was going on. Even before that, when they had brought the kids into the auditorium the first time, the administration hadn't informed teachers of any plan. Dismissal to lunch was a surprise. Everything was a surprise. They're trying their best, but in the midst of trying to handle things they forget that they have the faculty who could help them and make some decisions. They don't tell us things. That is another really frustrating thing.

That being said, there are some good kids, and my school at least doesn't have quite the violence as other schools. I feel safe walking down the halls, which is saying a lot because there are definitely schools where that is not safe. The students at Woodson are mostly 'good' kids, mischievous and lazy mostly. A lot better than angry and violent. The lazy and unmotivated bits are the things that I just don't understand and hate. There are 835ish students enrolled at the school and I would say only about 600 show up on any given day. Rainy days, snowy day, Fridays...those are the worst attendance days. I have 29 kids enrolled in my first and fourth periods. In first period, I don't get above 18 students and most of those walk in 40 minutes late. And in 4th period I rarely have more than 12. And it's not like they are the same kids who come, day in, day out. Oh no, that would make my life simple. The kids rotate. So it is extra hard to get anything done because I'm not seeing the same kids everyday. I'm constantly having to go back and re-teach and individualize instruction, which makes it SUPER hard to move along and accomplish anything.

And the administration is really trying...they are just so overwhelmed that they can't really do as much as they might like. Any one crack down would get shouts of "well, you didn't do anything when such and such happened!" I like the people that I work with, but...something needs to happen. We need more dedicated staff. We need more security guards who don't act like they are the kids' friends. We need more collaboration between subjects and between teachers teaching the same subject.

I don't general it is a huge mess.

And I'm pretty sure that I'm going to be there next year...when we are in a new location, waiting for the new school to be built. Attendance will probably get even worse. Sigh...

1 comment:

Cynthia said...

Lissie, you feel as though your efforts aren't having any results. Unknown to you, some of your students do pick up on your dedication; however they don't know how to tell you. Or if they do know how to say "thanks for all you do", they don;t want their friends to know about their gratitude. But I do know it's there. I saw it in the eyes of several of your students when I visited. Give yourself a hug & know I'm proud of you. Mom