I enjoyed my day with my students and we worked from bell to bell with no problems. My sophomores reviewed the elements of narrative while my seniors analyzed George Herbert’s metaphysical poetry and worked on John Donne poems for homework. We are about to launch into longer pieces in both classes. My sophomores will be reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, the story of our local hero Louis Zamperini. My seniors will be reading Hamlet by Billy, the Bard, the story about the tragic Prince of Denmark. We are about to move into a few weeks of redundant read, respond, discuss class periods. But the students will fall into a rhythm despite the upheaval of days off and test days in the past week, and the chaos of homecoming this coming weekend. The plan is set, and the kids are excited and ready to go.
So what I remember most about today is not my students being on task and asking questions and taking notes and reading and discussing. What I remember most is what I did last–attend an intervention team meeting to discuss what my data analysis of attendance data shows. And what it shows is that too many students are on track to miss far too many days of school this year–nearly 300 students of our 1,800 students are on track to miss at least 10% of the school year. And over 50 students have tardiness issues–and I have one 49 minute period a day to track them down, document, put them on contract, hold meetings with their parents who postpone meetings over and over again or just don’t show up, document some more, check up on how they are adhering to their contract, escalate to the dean for Saturday detention if they are not making the necessary changes to attend on time and regularly.
Sometimes the sheer numbers are overwhelming, but when I do have a success story, I feel vindicated by it all. Luckily, this year, I have a new team of administrators who are helping me, supporting me, guiding me, helping me to reshape my role as an advocate to be more successful. With their support, I’m already having more success than last year. When I feel inundated or buried by the sheer numbers, I remind myself that I may not be able to reach all of them. That won’t keep me from trying though. I will continue to work with them and for them to ensure they are in class, they are safe, and they are learning. Showing up is half the game because you can’t win a game that you don’t play.
“It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi
The most “Carpe Diem” song imaginable…