Post # 1
I just wanted to vent for a moment. I have been teaching for 8 years, but this is my first year to teach Jr. High. Trust me, I have heard all of the horror stories that are associated with this age group. Overall, it has been a great year though and I find myself liking the older kids.
I have two 7th grade groups and I will tell you they are as different as night and day. I had one student who didn’t pass the last 9 weeks so I emailed her mom at the beginning of the week and informed her that there would be a test on Thursday of this week. The students had received the study guide last Friday. Well, this student was suppose to be gone for a sporting event yesterday so I had told the student that they could make it up on Friday. The sporting event got cancelled due to weather, but I still let them make it up today. After having the extra time to study and me making the test as non-difficult as I thought I could, the student still did not pass the test.
I know I shouldn’t let this bother me, but it does. I know this student is a teenager with school being one of the last things on their mind. I know they are more worried about other things. It is just I feel as if their score is a reflection on me as a teacher, but to give some perspective there was 4 that didn’t pass the test out of 18. In the other 7th grade group, it was A’s and B’s across the board.
I’m sorry this got so long. I guess I’m just looking for some words of encouragement possibly from other teachers who may have had experience with this. I feel as if I am doing what I need to do… contacting the parent and giving a study guide a week in advance from the test… I just dont know what else to do and I am feeling discouraged.
Post # 2
honeybee2020 : it’s imperative that you learn to not take things personally. This has nothing to do with you as a teacher or your teaching abilities. Some kids just don’t want to make an effort, some kids need more life experiences before they are ready to learn, and some kids our traditional schooling just does not work for them. Again, this has nothing to do with you; the sooner you realize that the more at peace you will be.
Good luck my friend. (I teach science to 9th graders in a highly underserved community)
Post # 3
teacher-bee-in-the-sea : thank you for taking the time to respond! It is nice to hear encouraging words!
Post # 4
I teach in a Title 1 high school. We would need the entire sheriff’s office to keep up with the truancy. 1/5 of my students will fail, from not attending class, not making up work, and sleeping in class.
I have them check their grades, I allow missing work to be made up all quarter. I hand out study guides. The parents can login anytime and see their grades. Progress reports go home. I tell them sleeping and not doing any work will result in them failing. Nothing changes.
I also have amazing students. Those who are interested in education and becoming more.
We help the ones receptive to help.
Post # 5
I teach in the Title 1 department in a Title 1 school. We are a small district, but we still have multiple students in one grade who have been permanently on the D/F list. They do not turn in their work, despite them having study halls and being required to attend an after school study group . They do. Not. Care. And it’s a sign of a good teacher that their failure affects you, but you cannot make them care. Tests alone cannot make a student in our Middle School fail if they turn in daily assignments and complete pre-tests (even if they don’t get the right answers they get points for having done the work). Our teachers are available virtually every day before and after school, in addition to sometimes being available during a student’s study hall. And yet the failing students do not seek help because they just don’t care.
Like you mentioned, it is sometimes a teacher’s fault or poor teaching if a majority of a class does poorly (if the students are actually trying). However, if most students are understanding it and doing well, you cannot blame yourself. There will be students you cannot reach, no matter what you do. You have done all the right things by reaching out to a parent, providing a study guide and helping them as much as you can. But you cannot make them care if they choose not to, nor does it do them any favors to pass them when they do not understand and have not done the work.
Post # 6
Thank you both for your responses! I have this student twice in one day…. once for a required course in the morning (the one they failed) and once in the afternoon for an elective course. I showed them the grade they made this afternoon and after that they proceed to pout throughout the rest of that class period. Then at the end of class wants to know what their average is in both of my classes. Again, I felt bad this afternoon, but they knew the test was coming up and obviously didn’t prepare in the way they needed to.
Again, thank you for the support!
Post # 7
I teach 6-12 grade band so I definitely understand the challenges of the age group. It’s so hard not to take it personally but the most valuable advice I was given is to focus on the kids who are there, mentally and physically. If a kid is choosing to check out, you can’t let them take more of your attention than the kids in your room that day. Also, have your tried checking in with another teacher of a class he’s maybe successful in to see if there is a technique that succeeds with him? Or if he’s failing overall, is he getting some kind of support from the school for interventions?
Post # 8
I assume that you used to teach elementary? It can be hard moving up to the upper grades. The kids need to learn how to take responsibility for their own education, though they may not have had guidance on exactly HOW do to that. If you are concerned for this student, this is what I would do.
– have a private conversation about this test and also how they are doing in class. Is she struggling in class otherwise? Did she study? What are her study habits like (where, when, how long, etc). When I have these discussions I try to come across as non-judgmental as possible, even mentioning that at their age I often didn’t study or I didn’t study well enough. Usually kids will admit that they didn’t bother studying at all when I say that.
– whatever they did, whether they didn’t care or dropped the ball etc, I come at it from the perspective that that was then, and this is now. I’ll talk over some good ways to study, some tips and tricks. I’ll drive home the point that while studying may not be as fun, part of being mature is being honest with yourself about when you need it and putting it ahead of what you want to do for a greater goal. Sometimes I’ll ask them to imagine where they want to be when they are 25…they usually imagine themselves with a good job and doing something meaningful, none of which can happen without a good education. It can help to make it all seem more relatable.
– if the student is being honest and receptive, I’ll sometimes give them another test, with communication to the parents that they are to use the study tips we discussed, for partial credit. I believe fair means everyone gets what they need. If the student didn’t have good tools or a good grasp on the material, I want to remedy that and let them reapply the skills for a better grade. It doesn’t matter how often they take a test. It matters if they understand the material.
I don’t know how often you use tests for grades. I try to make the majority of my grades project work and classwork. I only give participation grades for homework and I don’t like making tests a large part of my classes. I mean that I do give tests, and often, but they are not weighted as much as projects and classwork because some kids just have anxiety, make silly mistakes, and can be unfocused. I would rather that they demonstrate their knowledge through other means. Maybe it’s something to consider?
Hope any of this helps! I LOVE middle schoolers!
Post # 9
strawberrysakura : thank you so much! This is very helpful advice. We are required to give 3 tests during a grading period and at least 9 daily grades, but I usually have more than that. I teach Science so my administration also asks that I incorporate a project/hands on activity into my lesson plans once a week.
With it being close to the end of school and with us having so many interruptions, it seems as if we are running out of time. I have a project planned in a couple of weeks that I plan to take for a test grade. It should be easy if the students do what they’re suppose to do and should be an easy 100.
Again, thank you for your advice! Yes, I’ve taught elementary for 7 years before this and then got moved up to middle school. I feel like a new teacher all over again sometimes with learning the ropes and ins and outs of what works with this age group.
Post # 10
This is only my first year teaching so my experience is quite limited, but it’s obvious you did what you could for the kid. This is not a reflection of you as a teacher. I teach grades 7 and 8 and I’ve had to learn this quickly. It is clear you care about your students, and that’s the most important thing.
Post # 11
Do you have an assistant who couldtwork some timebtobwork one on with struggling students?
Post # 12
olliesmommy16 : 8th grade as well. I put everything out on my syllabus about how they can make up work, where they can access assignments at home, and give them plenty of time in the school day to do their work. I call parents, I send messages home, but nothing changes.
As long as the rest of your students are doing fine (which looks like they are!), then I wouldn’t lose sleep over it. Some kids just want to goof around and you can’t force them to be better. Reality will hit them soon enough.
Post # 13
MissClaudiaCaswell : I don’t have an assistant.