Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Slice of Life: An Uncomfortable Time

I work in a private school. Every year we have to turn in a letter of intent. It's always this time of year that I begin to feel uneasy and unsure. Should I stay another year? Should I look for a new job in one of the public school districts nearby? I have a lot of anxiety around this. I love my classroom. I love my kids. I know that there are demands on you wherever you teach. I know that there are politics wherever you teach. Being in a private school though, you are dependent on the tuition from the students.

Some parents can be exceedingly demanding. We currently have a parent that we cannot make happy no matter what we do. Her child had an accident and had a concussion from it in October. He has had headaches and cannot track visually, so he cannot read anything. We are departmentalized, so each of his four academic core teachers meet with him during one of our planning times for one-on-one instruction daily. He will come to our class with other students for 10 minutes maximum one day a week. We have restructured requirements to the bare minimum for him. We try and invite him to class parties, community meetings, project work with other students, but the mother always has an excuse for him not to attend. Nothing we do is enough for the mother. We cannot make her happy. She constantly talks poorly about all of us, saying we don't care about her son. We are not including him. We are at a loss.  It is parents like these that make me not want to return. We try our hardest to help the child, to meet his individual needs, to go out of our way to do what we are being told is best for him right now. We cannot win. I know if I return next year, I will be teaching the younger sibling. I don't know that I can take another year with this parent.

On top of that the demands placed on us for retention are enormous. There is another school that begins in 5th and continues through 12th. Our school is 4K  through 8th. Every year we have a few students that leave between 4th and 5th.  It is a battle our school has waged since we first opened our doors.  We are losing 4 students next year. The administration has asked us to listen, to talk to parents when possible, to get genuine feedback as to why they're choosing to leave. The feedback we are getting over and over again is that the students have had their best year yet, but they know they're not going to keep them at our school for middle school.  The two reasons we keep hearing is because of the middle school math teacher not preparing students as well as they should be when they move to other schools, and the middle school program isn't strong. We've given this feedback to the administration. They are not listening. We keep asking ourselves, how can we fight a battle to keep our students through middle school when no one is addressing the issues with the teaching in those grades? It is incredibly frustrating. We are losing 4 students between 4th and 5th grade for next year. We are losing 16 students between 7th and 8th grade alone next year....and yet, nothing is said or done.

It's always this time of year....I don't know what to do.

Thank you to The Two Writing Teachers as always for hosting Slice of Life!

1 comment:

  1. This is definitely a sticky problem. I have no answers, but hope that your writing helps you to see it clearer in your mind. Best of luck in whatever you decide.