The Grade Disappointment

Ah. The dreaded Logs and Exponentials test. The one test that each year without fail makes the lowest test average. Not just because the material is difficult, but for the first time students need to study hard and, unfortunately, most don’t.

Grading this test is always hard for me; failing grades back to back … to back. Sure, you can clearly see your top students excelling and see which students put in the time and effort to study. But for what feels like most of students, all you see is your own disappointment.

That afternoon after grading those tests, I came home completely distraught. I didn’t know how I was going to be able to pass back their tests the following day. What was I going to say? What was I going to do to help them bring up their grade? Did students who clearly didn’t study deserve a second chance? It consumed my every thought. It was more than disappointment, it was personal.

So, I sought out the advice of my fellow teachers and asked them how do you not take it personally when your students fail? I was looking for a magical potion to carry my worries away and every teacher I turned to gave me the same answer. I do. I couldn’t believe it.

Teachers spend an insurmountable amount of time and energy on each of their students to help them learn and succeed. I make myself available to my students each morning. On this test, I provided them with not one or two but three test reviews. I even told them exactly what was on the test, down to the very questions. And yet, only a handful of them went back to study. How could they do that to me?

How could one student write “please explain” on several questions when I could have explained at any point throughout the unit if she had just asked.

How could another student write “IDK” on nearly every question when I told him exactly which questions to study.

How could my class not be their number one priority?

And that’s what I failed to realize before. I spend at least 6 hours each day with my students at the center of my mind thinking of activities and resources to help them learn and succeed. But them? They spend very few hours thinking about my class outside of the 90 minutes every other day when they are actually in my classroom. They’re thinking about their other classes, video games, sports, friends, their lives. But, when they are the center of our world, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we are not. And as a result, we end up with mixed emotions and meager explanations.

Maybe I didn’t explain this concept well enough. Let me talk to their old math teacher and find out how they did last year. Maybe there was something more I could have done.

The next day I was ready to give their tests back. I had a pep talk all planned out for them. I was going to give them encouragement that they could bring their grades up and I was ready to help them get there. I was nervous. What if they would all gang up on me and tell me I was an awful teacher? What if they would tell me that the test was unfair and I didn’t teach them something correctly? What if they were right?

Instead, their response was even more shocking.

While you all are working today, I’m going to hand back your tests.

“Oh no.” *dreadful looks*

Before I give them back to you, I want you all to know that this test is notoriously the hardest test of the year. This is the first time this class is difficult and you need to study harder than you did before.

*head nods all around*

However, it was also very obvious if you did not study at all for this test.

*accusatory glances are their friends*
*shrugs of acknowledgement from students who scored poorly*

But I want you to know that I am here for you and you can do test corrections as always.

*Mischievous looks at each other as if my test correction policy was brand new, even though it’s the same one I’ve had all year.*

I know you all can do this and this material is difficult, but I am here for you to help you succeed.

I couldn’t believe it! The students that didn’t do well knew they didn’t do what they needed to do. Even “IDK” and “please explain” who caused me so much grief humbly asked me about the test corrections policy and if there was anything else they could do.

All of the grief that this situation brought me was for nothing. And it made a lot of sense after the fact: these students are my whole world, and I am just a piece of their world. Their failures are my failures, but my disappointment isn’t necessarily theirs. And I have to be ok with that.

So did my spiel of encouragement prove to be effective? All I can say for now is that later in the week, I overheard everyone asking their friends if they studied for their first trigonometry quiz. I was not disappointed to hear many yes’s, and this time, grading their quizzes wasn’t so painful.

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You Make me Feel Like I’m Living a Teenage Dream

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/daily-prompt-its-friday-im-in-love/

Daily Prompt: It’s Friday, I’m in Love

by Krista on February 14, 2014

Remember your first crush? Think about that very first object of your affection. Oh, the sweaty palms. The swoony feeling in your stomach. Tell us the story of your first crush. What was it about this person that made your heart pound? Was the love requited? Change the names to protect the guilty or innocent if you must! No judgement here. Happy Valentine’s Day!

It’s so funny to think back to that very first person you ever laid eyes on and had all these crazy fantasies. You take one look at them and see your life in fast forward. You picture coming home to them every day after work, cooking in the kitchen as they wrap their arms around you, surprising you with flowers, kissing them goodnight, snuggling on the couch watching t.v., midnight walks along the river. All those wonderful fantasies that clearly only live in your dreams.

Then you snap back to reality and realize you’ve never talked to this guy in your life, he doesn’t know your name or your existence, and will probably never see him again. But that doesn’t stop your 12 year old mind from picturing you with him for the rest of your life.

Creepy!

That happened to me many, many moons ago. But I’m not sure if I would call it a crush. That’s nothing more than an object of your affection, someone to input into pre-existing fantasies that have been swirling in your teenage hormonal mind already.

A true crush is someone who can make those fantasies come true. Every last one of them. Seems totally unrealistic right? Those are things you only think about as you fall asleep or while you’re dreaming, not things that would actually happen in real life. That’s what I thought too. Until I met my first real crush.

Which wasn’t until about 3 months ago. I waited 24 years, but he finally arrived. When I first laid eyes on him, I think it was written all over my face just how incredibly hot I thought he was. I knew absolutely nothing about him but the teenage fantasies already started to flow. Sweaty palms and all, but he was just glad I didn’t smell like curry.

We talked for an hour and half but what felt like only 5 minutes. And then we danced while my stomach was still churning and my heart was beating to the bass of the salsa music. By the end of the night, oh I was definitely infatuated.

And then a week later, I was in serious daytime-drama-teenage-fantasy-crush-mode.

And over the course of the next 3 months, he made every one of those teenage fantasies come true.

And they just keep getting better.20140214-153447.jpg

I know it’s Valentine’s Day, but this is what every day feels like with him.

xoxo
Avi

Eat the Stupid Chip

Have you ever saved that one nacho in the center of the plate for the very end? You know which one I’m talking about; the delicious hub of all the cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and chili. It was just way to good to eat first, so you wait and eat all around it, sometimes violating it and using it for dipping other chips into. And then you wait until the very end so you can enjoy that glorious chip… all…by…itself.

How’s that been working out for ya?

Delayed gratification: the root of all evil. The excuse we give ourselves to not enjoy happiness that second. So we can ride the wave of anticipation until that magical moment when we can take a bite into happiness.

But have you ever wondered how that happiness would compare if we simply enjoyed it from the first second instead of waiting?

Well, here’s what I’ve been realizing more and more lately: the longer I delay gratification, the magnitude of happiness that I could experience decreases over time.

Because you know what happens to the good nacho chip? It gets soggy.

Or worse: someone else eats it. (I could have killed her…)

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But what happens if we just ate the chip right then and there? We can be as happy as possible and even a half an hour later we still experience the high of a great nacho!

So next time, kick delayed gratification to the curb and eat the stupid chip. Unless of course, you like soggy chips.

Or you’re out for blood.

Much Luv,

-Avi

5 Ways to be Happier Right Now

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I have always considered myself to be a grade A optimist. But it wasn’t until the other night when I was talking to my roommate that I realized how necessary it is for everyone to be some level of optimistic. It truly is the way to see the world in a beautiful light, appreciate your surroundings, and has been my key to happiness.

So, I want to share some insight into the mind of an optimist. I hope that this post will bring you some happiness in turn.

1. See the Sunshine

Every morning when you wake up, look up at the sky. There are always gloomy, cloudy, rainy, foggy days. But no matter what, whether you see it or not, there is sunshine. Look past the clouds and grey and find the sunshine. Instant happiness! Use this to start your day and apply the same logic in anything life brings your way. I know it sounds corny, but try it tomorrow morning and you’ll see!

2. Make the “small things” BIG things

When you arrived at the crosswalk, did the light turn to walk (I LOVE when this happens!)? Or when you arrived at the automatic door, didn’t it just feel like the universe was saying “WELCOME!” (I love automatic doors)? I don’t know about you, but those don’t sound like “small things” to me. Those sound like wonderful ways the universe is saying have a nice day! Appreciate these moments and make them into big deals!

3. Cut out the Negative Nancy’s

We all have those people in our lives that suck the happiness out of us. No matter what they have to say it seems like something is always wrong with their lives. Or worse, the people that are always trying to pull you in one direction, make you feel bad or defensive, begging for your attention, and just don’t make us feel good inside (I call these people emotional manipulators). Get rid of these people. They have no space in your life! My dear friend, who is the sweetest person in the world, is somehow a magnet to these people. I had lunch with her the other day and she wouldn’t stop talking about one of her friends who had hurt her and it slowly turned into a swarm of all of the hurtful things this person did to her. I couldn’t believe there was someone out there sucking the happiness and cheer out of her. After about an hour and half, I looked at her square in the eye and said “you need to cut this girl out of your life.” She’s de-friended her, stopped responding to text messages and feels so much better now. Just remember:Surround yourself with people who love you because that’s what you deserve.

4. Pick up something you love
Whether its a camera, your running shoes, or even a good and trashy romance novel (Nora Roberts, anyone?), pick it up and get your happy fix. So often, myself included, we tell ourselves we don’t have time for these small pleasures because there’s something more important we need to do like work or school. But if we deprive ourselves of these small pleasures and surround ourselves with things that make our head hurt, when do we make time for happiness? Take a 15 minute break, do something you love, then go back to work. You’ll be in a much better mood and these “more important” things won’t be so bad.

5. SMILE
Ok has this ever happened to you: you spend an hour getting ready, doing your hair, your makeup everything. Then you look in the mirror and you’re like “what did I do wrong?” because you feel like you don’t look as great as you should? It happens to me all the time and it took me a while to find the reason. I wasn’t smiling! Add a smile to your makeup! It makes people wonder what you’re thinking, releases endorphins, and best of all, it makes you happy, even if you’re not happy inside! Try it. Now :-D!

I hope that if nothing else this post brought a smile to your face and a little happiness in your life. If so, I’m so happy to hear it.

If not, well, there is no if not. I’m an optimist, remember 😉

Much luv,
-Avi