“Summer school is going to be great,” they began. “Lots of down time” they promised us. “Two to four students a day,” they swore, “and never more than two at a time.” they added. “Best of all, Fridays are all yours,” they concluded.
“You’re helping the students to study for the final exam they failed,” they explained. “You’ll have only three to four 55-minute sessions with each student before they attempt the test again,” they continued. “If they don’t pass, they will have to retke the entire class,” they clarified. “But don’t teach to the test,” they warned.
Summer arrived and with it a deathly heat that killed all previous assurances. “Whoops!” they exclaimed with a touch of bashfulness. “Looks like we can’t give anybody prep time during the week,” they went on, “but Fridays are still mostly yours!”
A quick perusal of the schedule revealed not two, not four, and not even eight students a day. I looked in horror at the names of no fewer than nine a day (except Fridays, of course!). 18 students. Nearly twice the number I was responsible for for the entire year. Four different subjects, two of which I had never taught.
To help me to develop 18 individualized plans, I had at my disposal not a curriculum list, not a teacher trained in the subjects, not a detailed description of each student’s strengths/weaknesses, and not even an idea of what summer school was supposed to look like. Instead, I held a copy of the failed tests of only some of my students. Of those tests, half did not include a scantron, meaning I had no indication of the students’ answers.
After four days of arriving an hour early and staying two hours late, I was able to cobble together something, which I meekly presented to my lethargic tutees. Two sessions down (only one for some) and two left until test attempt number two. At least I had finally arrived at our blessed Friday. Sweet Friday. I planned and I planned and I planned (but only for three out of four periods because four hours of prep for the week would be ridiculous).
Monday arrived again, and I felt refreshed from Friday’s preparations and a weekend filled with mindless watching of the Food Network. Staying strong and feeling good for the first two periods. Maybe this won’t be so bad?
The email arrives midway through third period. “Friday schedule” they ambiguously titled it. “Check the schedule to see what updates have been made,” they said.
Our completely, no—mostly–free Fridays have become mostly not free Fridays. We have now been given the task of “classroom support,” for two additional periods.
At the moment of this writing, I’m down to 55 minutes a week to prep for four subjects, 17 hours of teaching, and the individualized needs of 18 students. Good thing I have a whole hour and fifty minutes left of each student’s time to get them to proficiency.