I've confided in this to my wife and asked for help from my AP. In a nutshell, it feels like my teaching day is spent half the time teaching and the other half babysitting. During periods 1-3, I have younger students who can be challenging to teach but rewarding when they understand stuff. Periods 4-6 are the older ones who are just waiting for graduation so they can start work. I talked to my AP and he said to "do the best you can with what I have." He then read off the school's mission statement. Basically, to prepare the student to become respectful and responsible citizens. So back to the thread's heading.... I feel as if I am teaching in the morning and just passing time in the afternoon. Granted, I love being a teacher at this school but feel like I'm short-changing myself AND those in the afternoon. I think I can do more with the afternoon classes but they can only accomplish so much... they mostly feel like they can't do the math so it's made it challenging to teach. Now, I'm not looking for a way out of the school. The situation feels very different than last year when I just couldn't wait to find a new job. The fact is, no matter where I go, I'll have the same issues. Question is how do I reach my older kids who are just biding time? I can only wonder how bad it's gonna be when Spring Break rolls in!!

Could you provide details of what each of these periods typically looks like in terms of what you and the students are doing and time allotment?

I follow a basic formula for each period. Bellringer, check HW, lesson, practice, assign HW (could get finished in class), dismiss. Rinse and repeat... Every now and then, some "short-paper" quiz problems to see what's been mastered. I give students half-sheets of paper, some problems to do, and a time limit. Once done, trade and grade. This goes well during 1st-3rd. 4th-6th is where it breaks down... 4th is seniors who are more interested in just biding time 'til graduation. Most of them will go to work right away so teaching complex numbers, Descartes Rule, synthetic division.... flies over their heads.... next is the group of Junior boys who are just like the seniors.... one who had transferred in because he got expelled for selling drugs at another school has dropped out. 3 of them decided to go to the tech center (which is great for hands-on work training) so that leaves 4 boys who would rather kick and pinch each other (remember..... 16-17 year olds here) than do work.... it's the group where the AP says make em clean my room for grades! And 6th period is my slow Algebra IA class... a very weak and immature group of mostly boys (2 girls until 1 moves away next month). I've slowed way down with this group. What might take 2 days for a lesson might last 5.. don't know if that helps but it allows them to master stuff at a slower pace

I’m not sure there is a magic bullet solution. Keep trying to build and maintain positive relationships with students. Use positive reinforcement when students meet your expectations, and try to limit negative reinforcement and punishment.

I don't have any concrete solutions, but I do know that many of these kids have learned that if they play helpless long enough they will get passed along without mastery. They'll be able to clean rooms to pass a course. The lower the bar gets, the less they will do.

It might be helpful to look into problems and activities that are more low-floor high-ceiling. I think area models are really useful for polynomial division and it makes more sense than synthetic division or long division with polynomials.

The only thing I can suggest is to teach and review using games (team games) that involve collaboration and sharing of knowledge. Find every kind of practical (for you) game possible. I always had small classes, which was great, except that I wanted larger ones when we played games, which we did almost daily in almost all subject areas. That was the best way to get buy-in from apathetic students. I made sure that students could participate without feeling put on the spot so the less proficient students would be willing to join in and give their best efforts.

As far as I know, math is still a requirement to graduate. I would have high rigor, and high expectations and let those soon to be graduating students know that without passing math they will not graduate, so get their acts together, start behaving and try to pass the class.

I disagree with your AP about having students "clean the classroom for a grade". So bizarre and inappropriate. Bottom line is that math is a requirement, so they need your class to graduate. Period. Also, I would avoid having them start the homework assignment in class. If they can't do the work, they most likely need more time during the gradual release of responsibility part of the lesson: I do, We do, You do! https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/modeling-strategy-getty

The 2 classes that I would have to do this would be the seniors and juniors. My greatest concern is that I go slow, they go slower, I go slower, they go even slower, etc..... Second, I know my school requires everyone to take Algebra II. It's a state mandate. However, most students that I've taught have had trouble in Algebra I.... Most kids struggle in Geometry because they can't do the Algebra!