Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's Official

They have finally stopped pulling the punches and Borman Middle School is officially closing at the end of the year. Declining enrollment, employer sanctions laws that are hostile to illegal immigrants, and horrid test scores for the last 6-8 years were the reasons cited, which are all fair. They are actually planning on reopening it next year with a new name as a K-8 school, along with several other schools in the district in the same situation. (This means that, instead of the current 12 6th grades, there will be 5.) I have to say, after all the things that have gone on this year, I'm actually relieved to have a final end in sight.

They promised jobs to highly qualified teachers with seniority somewhere in the district, and would give preference to people who want to stay at Borman. Based on those things, I could probably stay at Borman, and would definitely have a job somewhere in the district. However, after the way Borman has been treated, and seeing the progression of the school the past four years, and after a lot of hard thinking, I'm planning on applying at another district for next year. Part of me feels like a failure, and the superintendent told us that the test scores and school closing did not mean we were bad teachers or a failure. However, it seems to me that somewhere along the line, someone did fail. It may not have been one single person, or one single decision, but something has gone horribly awry if more than half of the schools in the district are now underperforming. Something is not right. That is a major reason for me leaving the district. It would be awfully tempting to say that it's just hard to teach kids in poverty who are learning English at the same time, and that's why our test scores are low. However, the district right next to us, with the same population of kids, has all of their schools performing AND is winning awards. Clearly, somewhere along the line, someone or something failed.

And, since I hate failing in any way, I'm going to go somewhere where they are being successful at teaching students. (My kids would kill me for starting a sentence with "and.") Again, a big part of me feels like I've failed the kids I am teaching, but I also wonder if I just haven't been given the right tools to do the given job. If I kept on in this district, I have a feeling I would burn out sooner rather than later, due to frustration at constant failure. So, I think I'm doing the right thing for me and my future students.

Hopefully, THAT makes me a good teacher.


Ross said...

After reading a bunch on your blog, it sounds like you're making the correct decision for you and your career. Enjoy your new district, Dierdre.

I hope you had a merry Christmas and have a happy new year too!

You writing a little bit ago about teaching your students the small things like picking up garbage, pronunciation, and writing is right on. Have you read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell? If not, I highly suggest it. It completely changed my perspective working with college students on a daily basis. Just know that you're on the right track, and there will come a time when all the hard work on "the little things" will definitely pay off.

God bless!

Ross said...

Shoot. If only I could proofread my comments. Oh well.

I hope you read "You" as "Your" in that last paragraph.

D Shetler said...

Hey Ross- I haven't read Tipping Point, but I just read Outliers and LOVED it!!! I love that kind of stuff. Totally fascinating. If you haven't read that one yet, check it out. Reminded me to remind my kids that some of life is luck, and some of it is realizing when you have a lucky opportunity and taking advantage of it. I'll have to read his other two books yet too.