Test results from reading and spelling have come back. The scores are low and I feel responsible to the students to improve their scores; to the parents to explain what the scores mean; and to the department to work for change. As a new teacher, how much can I do? I am losing sleep over this issue.
A teacher might feel frustrated because the new teacher wants to "change the world" (which is not encouraged). A teacher might feel frustrated because lack of support from colleagues to deviate from the norm. A teacher might feel personally responsible for a situation that cannot easily be changed without assistance from parents and administration. A teacher is struggling with the problem in the English curriculum because the problem is much bigger than she is. She truly wants to help her students out, but can't because of the curriculum constraints and the fact that she is a second year teacher. Pressure from parents often drives administrators to look for quick, easy answers. There is no quick fix. Time to work with others at different levels is essential. Meet to analyze the problem with other districts' teachers and curriculum directors to see what they are doing. Too often curriculum directors meet but not with teachers.
Theories behind practice:
Research does show that whole language or a literature-based series can promote high language arts scores for students. The breakdown occurs when staff are not adequately trained in using the "best practices" with a new reading philosophy. Leadership drives the success of a program. When leadership does not "read" test scores to see a pattern of score decline, the system cannot monitor and adjust. Did past test scores (SAT's) show this pattern?
Impact on others: