Any tips?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by giraffe326, Feb 2, 2009.

  1. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Today, we found out we will have to get rid of a teacher next year. I am second-to-last hired, so I am sweating. The teacher last hired has been given a school supplied laptop and ActivBoard. The administration raves about what she does all the time. Sweating more. I have an ActivBoard and laptop on order- but was told it will likely take until June for it to come in and be installed :( Therefore, I feel I am at an extreme disadvantage. I will say the worst thing about all of this is that the other teacher lower than me on the hiring totem pole is my best friend at school :(

    Anyway, I will freely admit that last year was difficult for me. I had 23 students, 14 of which hadn't passed the state standardized test the previous year. 13 did not pass at the end of the year with me. Not good since the teacher across the hall had all of her students pass (although, she did have a much higher class).

    So, I have a lot of weight on my shoulders for this year. It can not happen again. I have, again, not had an easy year (I know teaching isn't easy, but if it isn't one thing it is another). I have had a few parent issues from families who switched schools due to school of choice. They think I grade too harshly and are angry their kids struggle so much. We work as a grade level to be consistent, and I am honestly the most lenient of us. One parent even pulled their child out of my school and went back to their old school. I have quite a few behavior problems as well. I handle it fine, but it makes we steer clear of as many hands on activities as I'd like. They all start arguing and I get angry because they are not doing the activity. So, I often avoid it.
    Academic wise, I have a much higher class than last year. I have only 2 who did not pass the math portion of their 4th grade test and 9 (including 2 of the math kids) who did not pass the reading section. With the exception of 3 very low students (IQs below 80- one is a 68 [and I do not put much stock in an IQ test]). However, I have 3 that scored in the 99th percentile. NC judges how much they grow to see if they were successful. So, they can not score worse than they did or I will be in a whole lot of trouble.

    I am not a teach-to-the-test person, but I feel I have to do SOMETHING. It is imperative that my kids score well on this ridiculous test. How do I make this happen? What strategies do you use? I started this week making a new reading center where they work on a bubble test together with me. How to go back, reread, eliminate bad answers, etc... I am very scared I will lose my job. I know I will if my scores come out bad again. Please help! :help:
     
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  3. brigidy

    brigidy Comrade

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    I hope they find the funds before they lose a teacher, however, I've seen the same thing happen at my school. We lost a really good teacher due to funding. I would recommend that you get the content for your state testing, go over it make sure your students not just know the material, they should have it mastered. Review, review and review. Give practice run throughs...reward those who do good. I know alot of people who are against teaching to the test, but you do need to keep your job. My fingers are crossed for you!!
     
  4. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    We don't have the numbers to keep all our positions. Our 5th grade class is 20 students bigger than the other grade levels. So, when they move on next year, we will have about 20 less students. So, there goes a teacher :(

    We don't test until May. So, I figure if I start doing something weekly with groups of 2-3, maybe it will make the difference. I hope.

    And thanks!
     
  5. bballlady

    bballlady Rookie

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    Feb 2, 2009

    Letting teachers go is based on seniority in my district. So it really doesn't matter if your students passed certain tests or not. This is why my union keeps very close tabs on the seniority list. It is checked every year.
     
  6. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Can that teacher be moved up with the students?

    From what I understand, it is based on seniority. What she does in the classroom, what technology that she has, wouldn't matter.
     
  7. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    giraffe,
    I feel your "who is going to go" question has already been addressed by other posters. I'm going to address the "how to get higher test scores" issue.

    I teach in a high-stakes test state. I am no longer in a testing grade, but I used to be, and I can tell you, I learned all the tricks of the trade to improve my student's tests scores. Those strategies stick with you, and I've found that now that I'm teaching 2nd grade (which is not a high-stakes test grade) my kids still blow the doors the rest of the school when it comes to city-wide tests. They tend to do much higher than the city average as well.

    There are definetely some strategies. First of all, is there a published "blueprint" for the test you must take? Ours has one, and it clearly outlines what kind of material will be covered, and how questions will be formulated (we can have "negative" questions -- such as Which of these is NOT the reason..., but we can't have any that are "all of the above" or "none of the above." ) Knowing this can help a great deal.

    Second, are they just tested in math and reading? If so, put lots of emphasis in those areas. There are many "test prep" books for teachers that can really help you get ready for standardised tests, such as Princeton Review, Coach, Blast Off -- to name a few.

    Learn and teach the "test taking strategies" such as work backwards, 50/50, box the word, and slash the trash. Those 4 strategies alone can raise your student's scores significantly.

    Finally, yes practice -- but have them take a sample page independently. Then score them, and go over the results TOGETHER. Go through the strategies question by question. Do it in small groups. If you have some students who don't miss any, then focus on the ones who are missing bunches. Have them describe how they could fix the answers for bonus points.

    Last, starting from this day, on any practice test, have them "justify the answer." Have them write out what strategy they used, and how they came to select the answer they did. Give rewards when students do this as they are directed (treats work well). You will learn a lot from their justifications. A student who responds, I know the answer is synonym, because I remember Ms. G going over it in class. I also knew that antonym means the opposite, and homophone means words that sound alike -- so those couldn't be the answser. Another student might justify like this -- I had no idea what the right answser was, so I used the 50/50 and decided it couldn't be answer a or d, because those answers sounded silly. Then I guessed between b and c. Boy -- then you know, the student doesn't know the content!

    Should we have to teach to a test? No. But do we have to? A lot of the time, yes.
     
  8. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Math and Reading for all grades. Science is 5th grade. I definitely stress those, and based on my kids' scores from last year, I have REALLY focused on reading. I have Coach and Blast Off books. We also are ordering some new ones put out by the state, so they are really geared towards our test specifically.

    This is what I began doing with them in small groups. I keep making them admit when they'd have jumped to conclusions as well.

    Thanks for that. I am bad about making them explain. I go through spurts. I make them, then I let up a bit until it is awful again. I will work on being more consistant.


    Thanks. A lot. I do a lot of these things, just not at the same time. I am all over the place when it comes to this. :eek: Last year, I practiced very little until 2-3 weeks before the test. Part of my "I refuse to teach to the test" attitude. This year, I have not really done anything math wise other than normal review questions attached to my tests. But, with reading, I have made an effort to do at least two practice passages every month. Oddly, I decided to make it weekly last week. Glad I decided that because now I am paniced! I student taught in 1st grade in another state. I had no tests to worry about. I never imagined how much they stressed it here. It was nothing like this where I grew up. I have known all year long that I had to make an improvement in this whole 'testing' area. Now I am more determined than ever!
     
  9. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I am a in a non-union state and there were 3 teachers hired for the same school year. I was hired 3 weeks before the other teacher. I signed paperwork only a week before she did. So, I really don't trust my job to be safer than hers.
    I just want to make sure I do the best job possible. Not that I didn't before, but I have an extra incentive.
     
  10. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I have known teachers who were saved from being cut because they signed their contract minutes before the other teacher. It comes down to who was hired last, and that means the date and time they signed the contract.
     
  11. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Love the strategies that are mentioned, Rainstorm.

    I give a lot of mini-quizzes from test prep books. Ten questions every few days--doesn't take too long to cut and paste the questions from whatever book you use.

    Constantly reviewing. I taught graphs way back August, but we're still making graphs and talking about why a line graph for this info is the best for whatever. I do a quick warm-up everyday in math. Just a mix of anything. I don't always stick to Calendar Math topics. I'll throw in story problems from a different book, logic problems, quick add and subtract decimals, etc. Just keeping it all fresh.



    Check out Frank Schaffer Publications for specific test preps for your state. I got mine from School Box.

    And, as "corny" as it sounds, a lot of testing has to do with confidence and belief. On your part and on the kids.
     
  12. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    It is not always the last hired teacher that is let go. I was the last hired when the numbers changed at my last school, and I was not the one transferred to another school within the district.


    And I agree with the constant reviews. Besides small groups, I think that is why I usually have very good scores. The kids are not allowed to forget anything they have learned. Or at least, that is the goal. ;o)
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Are you tenured?
     
  14. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    nope. We have 6 non-tenured teachers. One can not be eliminated because they are not a regular classroom teacher. So, out of the remaining 5, I am second-to-last hired.
     
  15. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    giraffe,
    I'm sure it is different some places, but in most public school districts it is totally based on seniority. Our district goes strictly by seniority -- nothing else.
     
  16. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    In my district they can let any non-tenured go at will...there is no seniority among non-tenured in my district...
     
  17. Yank7

    Yank7 Habitué

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    Feb 4, 2009

    Our State exams are part short answer,marked by machine,and part writing and listening skills marked by teachers sent to a certain location based on certain criteria. I think they use a dart board.Some of these teachers mark for nine hours.Do you think they can mark a paper at9Am and &Pm in the same clearheaded manner.Then through some magical formula the two or three parts are combined to obtain a score between1-4.(dartboard?)The math,science and social studies exams are marked in a similar manner.These set of exams determine how well children,teachers and students are doing in school.Headline child does no homework,classwork and has been in 10 fights! Who cares? What is his scores on the state Exams.He got a 3 and a 4. He Graduates as a genius. Sorry I guess I got carried away,but I am totally frustrated what education has become today in this test crazy age.
     
  18. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I'm a little confused? Was this part of this conversation?
     
  19. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    There was discussion on test scores being a basis for 'staying' or 'going', so Yank7 was referring to that part of the conversation. If you are being held responsible for scores, and your job may depend on who has better scores, and the grading is inconsistent, then it's unfair.
     
  20. mom2ohc

    mom2ohc Habitué

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    Feb 5, 2009

    in our school also, non tenured teachers have no seniority. we have two teachers here that are covering maternity leaves, and on was actually here for half of the year last year, but if I had to guess the one hired later could keep her job.
     

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