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Ghosts

September 30, 2011

Every Friday our school lets out three hours early and we either do test prep for an hour with our homeroom students or we meet to discuss their progress with printouts from My Data.  I like to meet with them at the computer so I can access relevant links that tell the student more than what their CST scores are. I like to see the whole picture.  Mostly, what I see is that they have succeeded in spite – not because of- LAUSD and their one -size fits all policies.

So I sat down with a student, Jessica and we went through her grades both here and from Fremont, where she, like most YOU students,  had previously attended.  I then asked her, “Do you want to see your elementary grades?” I was actually curious as to how the grades would be presented. Would there be comments like in the cumulative files from teachers past which help me understand the students more? I clicked on the link. Up popped the name of Rigoberto Ruelas and a series of numbers because I guess back then, students were graded on a number scale rather than with letter grades. “Well. Rigoberto, I have one of your students,” I said to myself.    I felt at that moment an awesome responsibility to take special care of her.  She said that Rigoberto had been a close friend of her family and that she had attended his funeral. Some minutes of silence passed.   I asked her what she wanted to do after high school, but I don’t remember her response.

We then went back together through her secondary grades at Fremont and I saw the names of  more ghosts- but living ones- Susan McCleary. Corey Long, Angela Jimenez.  She mentioned that Ms. Jimenez was a nice teacher. I saw a whole bunch more teacher names that I didn’t recognize, courtesy of reconstitution.

I wonder for how many more years I will be seeing the name Rigoberto Ruelas pop up on my screen. And I wonder how many more walking ghosts- walking wounded- the teachers who are attacked for bucking the CST obsession trend are out there whom I will never know.  I am connected to one,  but by a computer screen. We will be connected in cyberspace for about six to eight more years and I will peer up into the face of yet another student he cared for and whose life he changed.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. M. Thibeault permalink
    September 30, 2011 8:05 pm

    “Well. Rigoberto, I have one of your students,” I said to myself. I felt at that moment an awesome responsibility to take special care of her.
    I am heartened, Barbara, that you have found your way home.

  2. October 1, 2011 8:13 pm

    Thanks, Barbara. You and I may be the only bloggers to have acknowledged the responsibility with that date. Glad you did it. I think people need to remember the human cost of this ill-conceived “r4eform”. Thank you!

  3. October 1, 2011 11:35 pm

    The human cost continues… I know few of us are the same since the Fremont reconstitution. I certainly have no desire to get close to new colleagues as the same level of trust just isn’t there as was there at Fremont, except in a couple of cases. At Fremont, there was much more acceptance of different teaching styles and methods and a “we are in this together” type of thinking – I haven’t really encountered that since I left Fremont.

    I also want students to succeed but definitely don’t feel I will have the same level of relationship as at Fremont except for with a few, but I also know I have to accept those changes if I am to work in LD7, which has poisoned the collegial environment and forced an unfortunate competitiveness instead of cooperation at its schools. I don’t do competition or worry about whether I have power in my classroom and I certainly don’t do, “He’s a bad teacher, she’s a good teacher” or “My test scores are higher than your test scores” bullshit. Yet I now feel surrounded by it. It’s making it hard to teach well and it may just be a readjustment to LD7, which seems more concerned that a standard is written on the board than whether a student can write a coherent paragraph. Yet I know, obviously this is where I am supposed to be. The kids are great and starting to really improve their work.

    Meeting with that student helped me think more clearly and get myself back on track

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