Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Teaching Turmoil

As you may know, I teach in Memphis at a low-income, low-performing school.  I absolutely adore my school and the children I am blessed to work with daily.  It has been very hard, but for the last two years I have cherished every moment of every day with my babies.  I taught eighth grade science last year and teach seventh grade science this year.

Since our school is so low-performing, we were taken over by a special district called the "i-zone" for innovation zone of schools last year, within our regular school district and throughout the state of Tennessee.  Every spring, we get evaluated based on a cumulative average of our evaluations throughout the year, surveys our students take rating our performance and something called TVAAS- where we are evaluated based on our test data.  Some teachers do not have TVAAS data- librarians, gym and band teachers, first and second year teachers and special education teacher.  TVAAS is based on a three year average of your test scores from state standardized tests.  When you do not have TVAAS data, you do not have a choice but to have your score averaged based upon the school's score.  Since my school is a low performing school, our school received a 1 out of 5 last year on this scale.  This means that our librarian, gym teacher, special education teachers and first year teachers all got 1 out of 5 on TVAAS- regardless of our own successes or failures in the classroom.

To be hired in a low-performing school, a teacher must earn a 3 out of 5 in their cumulative score.  Because of being averaged with the school's low score of a 1, this group of us would have theoretically been out of the running.  However, since we were all actually high-performing teachers with good observation scores and our own test data (regardless of the school's data) was quite high, we were allowed to reapply for our jobs and stay another year.

I love the teachers I work with and am blessed to work with supportive, loving, believing, faithful wonderful men and women.  These people truly care for the children they serve and work hard all day in their classrooms and stay hours after work, tutoring and mentoring, coaching and praying.

Yesterday, we were told that because of our TVAAS, we would not be allowed to return to our school next year.  Even though our own data is fine, even though our own evaluations are 5 out of 5, even though we love these children with our whole beings and give our entire lives to serve and teach them- a flaw in the system and an administrator who is not willing to fight for us is meaning we have to lose these opportunities and apply to work at other schools in the school district that are higher performing. 

Yes I can work at another school.  But I have a heart for my Hamilton Wildcats.  This was my first school after working in summer school in Atlanta and doing my student teaching in Virginia.  These are my babies.  They taught me to love.  They taught me what caring is.  They taught me about commitment, about inner strength, about never giving up.  And I'm not ready to give up this part of my life yet.  

No more connect four to review parts of a cell and cell organelles.  

No more cheerleading practice.  

No more adorable quotes: "Ms dean what if I took off Desmond's arm? It would grow back?" " can you eat starfish?" Can that starfish see us? What do they taste like? Why is it red? How many starfish are in Japan? (?) why didn't nemos fin grow back?"
No more having my sweet fiancé come to Saturday school and work with my boys on their math skills. He's wonderful with my kids and they LOVE and need positive male role models.

No more little lovelies begging to play with my hair and asking adorable questions about why it feels that way, why it grows that way, why it doesn't hold a curl or a braid like theirs does.

No more twin days.

No more having my facebook hacked when I leave my phone on my desk and my ladies upload selfies to my facebook instagram and twitter (happens weekly! haha)
No more cheerleading practices and basketball games, the girls convincing me to put on a uniform and show them my "flips" and do a back handspring (and be limping for weeks afterward!)

No more notes from my eighth graders as they leave to go onto high school and accomplishing every dream their sweet hearts can ever dream.

I don't want to leave.  

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