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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

On the Cusp of 2014

In a few minutes it will be 2014. Of course, a teacher's "year" bridges the old year and the new. At the end of my 2012-2013 year, I was a miserable teacher. I did not feel as though I had the respect of my principal, nor did I feel that I had done well as a teacher. I had struggled with my classes, particularly the seniors that year who seemed more interested in fighting one another than they were in learning. That began to change when the students, the juniors at the time began to report on their End-of-Instruction (EOI) test scores, which seemed to be much better than in past years.

 When I finally got the results, it turned out that over 80% of them has passed their EOIs. When the non-full time students were factored out, it turned out that 80% of the full-time students had passed, the highest scores in the school's history.

While I did not feel that I was the sole factor in this result, I did feel a great deal better about myself as a teacher, and it seemed to make all the difference to my morale and approach to teaching at Centennial. I felt that if there were one thing that made a difference, it was the fact that I had begun to develop relationships with the students that has deepened over the months. I have tried to help students celebrate their time in the school by cheering their victories and commensurating their losses.

 I also had much help from many of the consultants who came to aid our schools. The best advice they gave me was to go with my instincts to perform for the students. I have always felt that teachers are to some degree actors, and that I needed to "sell" what I the knowledge I wanted them to master. That freed me up to become a knowledge salesman, and that helped to get them involved in their learning.

 As I face this new year, I will continue to do what I have done. We have some changes coming on in our school. We will have a new principal starting on Friday. The students are expected to show improvement over last year.

Who knows what the state or district will do with our school. We will just have to carry on and remember that the only ones who really matter in all this are our students, our future.

Happy New Year!

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