Internship Reflection Week of 2012-04-16 [34] (Week After Spring Break)

Although you might have thought teachers and staff would have been relaxed and recharged after the time away, many commented to the contrary.  Although students usually have fun during a break, for many school provides structure and an escape from the situation at home.  This is the classic dilemma of the American Worker, we have such little vacation time (relative to, say, Western Europeans) that we never get beyond the vacation-is-a-lot-of-work threshold, and really start to enjoy ourselves before we have to start getting back to work.

You may say, “but teachers get the whole summer off, why are they always complaining about the few hours society makes them work.”  To which I would utter the heretical, I would rather work all summer teaching, if I knew I was making progress with a student that would otherwise be making bad decisions, in a bad environment.

Investment Game Starts (Ends on May 31, 2012)

Last week the three students for which I am a mentor, started a game on http://www.investopedia.com.  The rules are that the student who experiences the most appreciation of their $100,000 portfolio by May 31, 2012 will win a prize.  One student has taken a substantial lead, and the rest of us are struggling to catch/keep up.

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I believe this activity has potential to demonstrate H1 and H5, if I can show that new learning has occurred.  I also feel as though this activity could demonstrate O1 and O2, if I do some work to connect this game to curriculum standards and content areas.  Other staff at school have said this type of learning activity does go in bursts at the school, the trick is keeping sustained effort.

The End of the Year is Coming

Like all schools, we are coming close to the end of the year, there are some standardized tests yet, both mandatory (MSP, EOC) and non-mandatory (SAT).  Since all students at our school are on individualized learning plans, there are also end-of-year exhibitions which are the culmination of the year.  Some students will have a lot to show, some will not.  For some this lack of effort or results will mean that they don’t move up to the next grade, and that lack-of-progress message, may be something new to them.  For some that have natural ability who have not applied themselves or have coasted through school, they were being carried along on the steady tide of our age-graded system, and regular clockwork of yearly promotion.  At our school, what you learned is about your interests (no boredom escape clause) and how far you took that is related to your own goals/motivation/drive (it’s all on the student).  There may be some students that are unaware of these consequences.  There may be some students that are incapable of dealing effectively with these consequences.

As staff, entrusted with these students for a few short hours each day by the state and by the parents/guardians, we feel acutely the shortness of the time.  These next few days are crucial, and will in some cases will result in messages that are painful, but they need to be honest, straightforward, and compassionate.

For me, I ask myself if I have exerted my influence as adult and parent in a significant way for my students this year.  Have I taken chances and risks, which could have caused me to look foolish, but for the sake of the kids, might have meant a real breakthrough?

There may be summer work ahead for some students, to help catch up.  But I worry there too, that for some, our chance at a more significant, life-changing summer activity is also slipping through our fingers.  Students should have summer learning plans that provide some continuation of learning during those months.

But, the end of the year is coming, and to confess, I have *never* liked that.

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