Ok, so here it is. After grading ISAT practice expository essays for a few hours Friday afternoon, (okay, so it was about this much grading and THIS MUCH chatting with Mrs. J), I started feeling conflicted. Part of me is so proud of the growth some of these kids have made. I mean, thinking back to my diagnostic writing assessments at the beginning of the year, a bunch of these kids have seriously come lightyears. They have voice, hooks, second order support, and transitions. A few almost brought me to tears.
But then there is the far too large to ignore group of students who, well, have made less progress...And while a few of the essays were flat out hilarious with their odd examples, convoluted "support," and random lapses in focus, the reality is that they are really frustrating. We have worked SO HARD on writing this year. And it is amazing to see the growth, but so disheartening to not see growth in some students.
Mrs. J. pointed out to me that some of these students I'm so worried about have made growth. As I think about it, yes, I see the growth. But...there is just so much further to go. And I have to wonder, do I get so caught up in my own standards when I look at my students' work? See, "good enough" has never been good enough for me. And baby steps have never been easy. A little bit of progress has on many occassions just reminded me of how much further I have to go. And as I sit and think about my students and how I tend to feel when I grade their work, I'm realizing that it's not them I get disappointed with--it's me.
Being the perfectionist extraordinaire that I am, I like to see results from my hard work to validate the fact that I am actually accomplishing something. I have been working so hard this year at becoming a good teacher and developing my teaching craft. I have also been working SO hard to teach these kids writing. Since there is no real curriculum for writing, I have spent hours brainstorming how to teach effectively, grading work, conferencing with the kids, and trying to help them grow as writers. And to see that some of them have so far to come still is hard, because I can't help but think that it just means that I'm not doing enough.
That's an easy trap to fall into with teaching--am I ever doing enough? They all just need so much all the time. I am only one person. I cannot give everyone everything they need all the time. As much as I wish wish wish I could. So...I think I will try to keep reminding myself that to do my best will have to be good enough, just like my students' best will, in the end, have to be good enough. That is all we can ask of each other.