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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.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

The "Make or Break" Term

Monday, January 6, we begin the Spring Term 2014 at Oklahoma Centennial Middle/High School.  This will be a crucial, really a "make or break" year for our school.  This term is the last in our School Improvement Grant, the money given to us to "turn around" the school from its "failing" ways.  So far, the results have not been all that positive, though there are some positive signs.

On the state department of educations "A-F" report card, we rose from a "D" grade to "D+". The feeling is that we will have to show much more improvement for the school to remain as it presently exists.  If this does not happen, we all face the possibility that we will need to apply for new jobs next year. I am not going to borrow trouble. I have enough to deal with right in front of me.

The district chose to send our principal, Charmaine Johnson to another school. Ms. Johnson did wonderful work during her two and a half year tenure. She helped me improve my teaching methods and taught us the importance of relationships in working with our students, among other improvements.  But it was judged that a change was needed, perhaps more than anything else to impress on us the seriousness of our situation.

There are many things beyond any teacher's control.  Those things I can't worry about. There is a need in front of me.  The young lives in my classroom need to know how to read, write, speak, and think well to succeed. Our goal as a school is to increase STUDENT achievement. All things that do not lead to this are distractions.

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