Dangerous negativity

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I read my post of August 9th and I am struck by the defeatism in my words. The school year will begin shortly and I have to rein in that streak of negativity. If I don’t, my students may sense my feelings. I can’t afford for that to happen. My students need to feel that I believe in them. They need to feel that I expect them to succeed. I need the optimism required to aggressively pursue after-school tutoring sessions.

Eduhonesty: This year, I plan to teach like I bowl. I try to set the bowling ball down slightly right of center and I focus on hitting those arrows that are about one-third of the lane down. I don’t aim at the pins per se. They are too far away. My approach does not produce world-class bowling, but my scores don’t fall into any disaster zones either.

I left a student behind who had missed the math boat. He clearly had analytical skills. He could break down problems well and come up with rational solutions. I promised him that, if I came back, we’d work more on finding out why he was testing so far behind grade level in math. So I have my first student to tutor if J. hasn’t moved. I’ll have to pull in others. If administration is making my job harder, that doesn’t mean I can bail on my students. They deserve my best. They also deserve my confidence.

I plan to focus on solid short-term improvements in the belief that if I can fill in the gaps in elementary math knowledge, I will take down a fair number of pins. In Bel Kaufman’s “Up the Down Staircase,” Kaufman has a phrase: Let it be a challenge to you. I have my challenge. In the near future, I’ll be working to build up my enthusiasm for that challenge.

I intend to walk into that room ready to win the game.