Nightmare Class

Assigning every student for their class schedules can be a nightmare, but what may be even worse is the class and students themselves.

At my school site, there’s been a huge problem because one too many “academies” or “small schools” were created, so there too many teachers for the expected number of students that would enroll in the school (public schools get more or less teachers depending on the number of students – higher or lower – that enroll at the school.  More students = more teachers).  A few involved parents were so angry about the splitting of the traditional school into academies since the kids tell their parents that their “Advanced” class or “Honors” class or “AP” classes weren’t actually “Advanced,” “Honors,” or “AP” classes.  Parents let the principal know that they would pull their kids to another school if there weren’t advanced classes for them.  Those parents and kids want the kids to go to college, and without different level classes, their children aren’t being served, and will be unprepared for college.  Without sufficient number of teachers, there will be fewer different level classes are available for teaching, because by law (at least in the state of California, anyway), teachers are only to teach a maximum of 3 preps* per school year, which means more mixed-level classes.  Regular U.S. History for example, where the range from students who just came to this country and brilliant students are placed into the same core class (electives are OK).  An entirely additional debate on whether to track students or not, can be done but not in this post.

I didn’t have a nightmare class subject but it was pretty bad.  Has anyone heard of Big History? I was assigned to teach that in student teaching.  It’s very cool as a student to learn, especially if you’re interested in science and space.  However, if you’re the teacher who doesn’t understand and doesn’t have much of an interest in science and space, you’re not doing very much for students.  I read one of the articles on the different types of energy we can harness, it was a very difficult reading designed for 9th graders who can work independently.  With all of the jargon and long sentences, even I didn’t understand or was able to put together what was going on.  Yeah, yeah, don’t assign it.  Much of Earth’s and the Universe’s history is science and space and much of the future will be scientific.

The actual class where all the immature students are placed in the same class will be a nightmare.  I’ve learned to not label students as “good” or “bad” students but the students with behavior issues should be relabeled as “students with issues.”  Most people aren’t bad or malevolent.  Students act the way they do because of (adult) things they can’t control – nasty parental divorce, being homeless, live in a bad neighborhood, neglect, abuse, etc. – and they act out.  But we also consider if they are mature if enough to do the work we would require mature students, students who are willing to do the work (or at least reinforced by parents at home to do the work), and students without too much behavior problems that affect the class in learning.

*Subjects and different level classes.  For example, Modern World History, American Government/Civics, and U.S. History are 3 preps.  Likewise, Regular U.S. History, Advanced U.S. History, and AP U.S. History are 3 preps.



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