Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Color by Numbers

Today was the data day before the start of Report Period 4 at school. I'm impressed because it's the official halfway mark of the year. Data day is a day off for students while teachers come to school to plan for the next report period, finalize grades, and look over the data from the math and reading benchmark exams from last week.

Typically, I enjoy these days of work. However, I do not enjoy the big staff meeting at the end of the day to look over the results of the exams and how we are ranking in terms of the two other Mastery elementary schools. Don't get me wrong, I loved seeing that our students made progress and that we are holding our own with the other schools. That is all great - I'm a team player and I want our kids to shine and rock their exams as they move up to being on grade level.

What puts me off is that when we see growth in math and reading, shout outs always go to the reading and math teachers. As another teacher put it, it's almost like everyone else who doesn't teach these two core subjects are expendable. I know that we're not, but one can't help feeling that way.

On the same hand, reading growth amongst our students instantaneously brings shout outs to the reading and literature teachers, but what about the other teachers? In social studies, I can attest that all of my students who are on task are producing writing samples every lesson. My fifth graders are actively reading in groups, following along as I read, or reading independently nearly every day in class. And I can attest that nearly two thirds of my students are comprehending the material, which is certainly more dense than some passages read in other classes. I've taught my fifth graders main idea and details, sequencing, comparing and contrasting through writing, vocabulary, and other literary skills while using the social studies content as a background. Every lesson has a Do Now that requires students to write at least five sentences.

I guess all I am trying to say (not trying to rant here) is that it is certainly a team effort. And while I know that everyone at my school is one team and realizes this, it's not always evident when it comes to exam results.

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