The Achievement Gap and Middle School Math

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 23 2012

Things that happened today

1. I am observing a teacher at another school as part of my certification program. I am scheduled to go visit the other school next Wednesday. This afternoon, I was told that the district-wide math interim test would be next Wednesday, also. Not only is this one week before the end of the quarter, but it is only one week after right now, which doesn’t really give me enough time to figure out how to teach all two weeks of remaining material in that time (also considering that two of the days between now and then are early release). However, it initially seemed like a good thing that all my students would be doing the test while I was gone, so we wouldn’t actually miss any instructional days.

However, apparently, I cannot go do my observation that day for the following reason: SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO ADMINISTER THE TEST! People need to go through some kind of training on how to administer the test; substitutes have not had this training so, therefore, substitutes cannot administer the test.

Hilarious reality that seems to epitomize much of modern public education:

Subs who are giving a test have more requirements they must fulfill than subs who are actually TEACHING A LESSON!

I was given the option of “inviting” one of the other teachers in my cluster (a teacher for LA, SS, and SCI) to administer the test that day and have a sub in one of their rooms instead. I declined. I’m going to try to just switch the day of my observation, which will mean I miss an actual teaching day with my students, but this seems (slightly) more fair than making another teacher miss an entire day of teaching their own class so that that they can administer my interim test….


2. In the middle of class, a (male) student yelled to me across the room: “My <rude word for breast> hurts. Will you rub it for me?” He got a referral.


3. A student stole a large amount of candy out of my desk drawer, and got a referral. Teachers who walked into the counselor’s office that period were apparently somewhat upset that they were not able to eat any of the stolen candy that had now been dumped on her desk, as it was considered evidence.

“Evidence is not a snack.” ….words to live by.


4. A student stole my paper where I keep track of who has misbehaved in class. I remembered who had gotten detentions, but I can’t remember exactly who had gotten some of the lesser consequences. This is particularly frustrating, because the kids have now finally started getting a little excited about the chart I put on the wall to keep track of students’ behavior and the prizes associated with this. Now I have to either give all of them their points for yesterday for behavior, or give none of them their points for yesterday…..neither of which seem very fair.


5. After school, there were some workers in my room installing new wiring for some reason. One of them saw the math problems left on the board from school today and started asking me questions about them. We had a really good mini lesson on using cross-multiplying to solve a proportion. One day, I’ll figure out how to get all of my students to be as excited about learning math as that guy was.


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    Closing the achievement gap with middle school math

    Metro Atlanta
    Middle School

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