About Me

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BLOG REVAMP! I am moving to Arizona and starting a new job as a 5th grade teacher in Phoenix with 65% ELL, 95% Hispanic population, and almost 100% living below the poverty line. I hope all are still interested in hearing my wonderings as I begin my career in my own classroom.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What is this and how did I get here?

I didn't know what it was going to take to get me back on this website and clicking away at the keys about my teaching experience. It's been 15 weeks and I have probably had a range of emotions similar to pregnancy. Many have tried to say that your first year of teaching goes along a predictable path of ups and downs (see above image) but I'd be more likely to say I go through that mountainous emotional terrain weekly.

Every time I sat down to write it seemed like there were too many things going on in my head to be able to get it all down quickly enough. Today, I got so unspeakably frustrated that I had to share with SOMEONE what it's like to teach in a poverty-stricken, southwestern urban 5th grade class.

Our school has a pacing guide for teaching specific skills. Each week we concentrate on a skill, and at the end of teaching it, we give an assessment that helps us determine in what areas we need to continue our instruction. (For example, last week I taught my class of 28 to identify components of main ideas and supporting details in an expository text... 7 of them passed.) I am expected to teach language arts for 1.5 hours per day, math for 1 hour per day, writing for 40 minutes, and re-teaching for 40 minutes..  When you take out lunch, specials, and recess, that leaves about 20 minutes for social studies and science. (My kids didn't know what the Constitution was, or that Pennsylvania was a state. I haven't even opened a science book.) 25 of my students are of Hispanic origin, and over half of them speak Spanish at home. I teach entirely in English, as the wonderfully informed citizens of Arizona have decided that Structured English Immersion was the way to go (Do the research and form your own opinions.) I have students reading everywhere from a Kindergarten level up to about 6th grade, and I have students in math who don't know how to multiply. There are a few who cannot even construct a simple sentence.

We are supposed to have 84% of our kids reach proficiency on 5th grade state tests by the end of the year.