Two weeks ago, I wrote about my students struggling through my AP World History class. Since then, a few interesting events occurred.
First, a couple days before the big unit one exam, one of the classes (or at least several vocal students) became a bit hostile because I had required them to make note cards of the major terms and people (to be used on this test and to help review for the AP test in May). This turned into a criticism of the class and workload in general. My reaction was to remind them that this is an optional course (they may take college prep if they desire) and to leave if they have a problem with the workload. Certainly not teacher of the year material, but the three other classes had not even so much as complained. They just did the work. Not doubt my stress level was a bit elevated with my comprehensive exams in a couple days, but still I was annoyed.
Then we took the test. An amazing thing happened – those who listened to my review session, studied their note cards, and actually focused on taking the test did well. Most people did better then their weekly quiz average and all of the class averages increased – one class went up 4%!
I also saw ten (of 130) students in one week drop down to college prep. Several of them had B’s, but just could not manage the workload (they had 2-3 other honors classes). Others needed to drop because they were just having a hard time.
Last Saturday, while I was taking the comps holed up in my school office, I invited the students to come watch a movie in my classroom and get a little extra credit. So I worked away, the students did something “fun” – I even offered two showings since I was at school anyways. Almost 2/3s of the students showed up.
Today I finished up a great teaching week, despite the comps hangover, and have just calculated the first progress report grades. Between the unit exam, participation grades, and the collection of an assignment log this week, I now have 33 A’s (up from 14 two weeks ago).
It looks like we have turned the corner. The students who are going to stick it out, are getting used to the workload, the expectations, etc. They know they have a couple essays to write in the next grading period and some of them are actually eager to them. They know the worst unit is over and they actually are starting to enjoy it. I always enjoyed it, but it certainly nice to have them on board.
Once again, I have to say. I love my job.