This past week has been a perfect example of that: our last day of academic classes is on Monday, June 16 so the last five days have been a mad scramble for help, tutoring, questions, reviewing, presenting, and administering final exams. Students who have consistently been demonstrating a lack of progress are sometimes aggressive in how they ask (read: demand) help from teachers and our time is more limited than normal due to our own end-of-year requirements.
Last week I sat on five Algebra 2 Performance Based Assessment Task panels (PBAT panels) - presentations my students have crafted (along with papers) to solve some real-life math problem using exponential functions. This is supposed to demonstrate what they have learned this year in lieu of the New York Regents exam (we are one of 31 schools with a waiver from a group called the The Consortium). They are very impressive and have proven to me the depth of knowledge our students really have. On the other hand, there are a number of students who will not be ready to share this knowledge with us and will fall behind. It is truly unfortunate that we try to emphasize time management and meeting deadlines yet a minority of our students are unable to reach them.
In my Algebra 1 classes my students sat down to a two-day final - a rigorous test asking them to explain, justify, and prove a variety of different statements about the content. For those students who have been focused, taking notes, asking questions, and ignoring distraction - they will prove to understand the material and do well. The others are the set of students that have not come for extra help or were distracted during class and unable to learn the material for their own reasons.
It is at this time of year when I always feel these mixed emotions: a sense of pride and joy for those who can demonstrate their knowledge and explain concepts they did not know the year before; as well as disappointment at those who I know would be able to understand if only they would act a certain way. Perhaps sometimes I could have said would have changed things; or one more phone call home (or one fewer phone call home!) could have gotten them organized. In reality, however, it comes down to them and them alone: certain choices lead to certain outcomes and I can't always control them.
This past year has been an amazing experience for me. I've started learning a new city's guidelines/policies, practiced a new curriculum, transitioned to a new community. I hope that I can come back after the summer with a deeper understanding of all these things and be stronger and better for my new students next year.