Sunday’s Reflection: “Stay The Course”

When troubled, remember to stay on your path.

Sunday’s Reflection: “Stay The Course”

As I took my “Walk With God”, I thought about how we need to “Stay The Course.”

It’s a phrase that a good friend and Christian brother, Robert Udoh, says to encourage me when I’m down.

This week, I needed those words.

Monday was a Professional Development/Parent-Teacher Conference day. For teachers, it’s a double-whammy. You must sit through PD and meet with parents…ehh.

That wasn’t my experience.

During the staff development, I received kudos for reaching the school’s goal (80 percent) on the first Campus-Based Reading assessment. It felt pretty good, although I couldn’t eat the Kit-Kat I received as reward…#lactoseintolerantstruggle.

The Parent-Teacher conferences were awesome, as well. Every conversation was about academics, not behavior.

Tuesday, the positive vibes from Monday didn’t carry over. My kids didn’t score to expectation on the English/Language Arts Checkpoint. Only 70.83 percent passed.

I wasn’t happy. And I was off-track due to a separate work struggle. It was so noticeable that a few people asked if something was wrong. I discussed the issue with someone, but I was still troubled.

Later that night, a friend checked me. He said: “You’re a Diva.”

Initially, I didn’t care for the comment but after some self-assessment, I asked myself: “Am I Diva?”

No. I’m not, but I do have some Diva ways. Let’s just say I can be a little like Cam Newton. When I’m unhappy, I brood, and I have a bit of a get-on-my-level persona.

Wednesday, one of my kids brought me a plant. Her classmate opined, “You need something to take care of.” (I know, she’s too much.)

While I was mentally preparing my kids for the Math Checkpoint, a few of them said that they were talking trash to some of their classmates on another grade-level. They were feeling themselves.

When the kids returned from P.A.L.M., I gave them the test. The kids backed up their trash talk…80 percent of them passed. I was hype.

My kids weren’t the only class on the grade-level that performed, either. 81.45 percent of the kids in Fifth-Grade Approached Grade Level. It was good for 6th in the district. (Five more spots to go.)

To conclude the day, I gave the kids a writing assignment. One of my ESL babies struggles with writing, so I worked with him individually. With a little prompting from me, he wrote a page and a half…breakthrough.

Thursday morning, my kids took the Science Checkpoint. They didn’t perform. I wasn’t mad at the kids…I was mad at myself. I didn’t set up my kids for success. That’s never happening again.

Following that disappointing checkpoint, the day didn’t get any better.

For Math, I re-introduced Multiplying Decimals. The kids struggled a bit. Only 60 percent got the Exit Ticket correct. I was livid. And that’s not an overstatement. I lit into a few of the kids who were disrupting the lesson.

I let them know that Mr.Short doesn’t believe in complacency — for children or adults.

As the kids were leaving, one of my kids said(sage-like): “Mr.Short, we’re not going to be perfect every day, we’re just kids.” (She’s the same child who said I needed something to take care of.)

She was right. I calmed down.

Before I went to sleep, I took my worries to God. It was a good conversation.

The next morning, I woke up well-rested and in a Great mood. I was in such a Great mood that one of my co-workers said I was being too positive, saying: “Enough. Too much positivity.” (Morning people throw off everything.)

Following P.A.L.M., the instructional day started off on a tremendous note. I tested my kids’ fluency. Most of my kids W.P.M. (Words Per Minute) had improved exponentially.

A few stats.

Seven kids are reading 170 W.P.M. Three more are reading at least 150 W.P.M. 60 percent of my kids are reading 130 W.P.M. (The goal for the school is 139 by the end of the year.)

I was happy, because to end last year, half of my kids were Tier 3 in Fluency. So, I aggressively attacked the area to start the year. Most of them are now Tier 1.

After the fluency test, I gave the kids a Reading Quiz. 80 percent of them passed. Four were a question away from passing. They’re pushing for that 100 percent.

My kids kept picking up steam.

Before Math, I pumped the kids up a bit. I chanted we’re about to go over Multiplying what…

Kids responded: Decimals!!!

I let them know that they struggled yesterday, but they’re going to rock it today, because they have a what mindset…

Kids shouted: “Growth!!!”

To start the lesson, I made an adjustment to my instruction. Instead of the kids counting the number of decimal places to left for step 2, I told them to do it first.

With the minor adjustment, the kids started to grasp the concept.

The lesson was proceeding well but was interrupted for a good reason. Two administrators brought the kids popsicles to celebrate the 80 percent in Math. My kids asked what they’d get if they got 100 percent.

Me (To one of the administrators): “Whatever they want.”

When the kids returned to class, I reviewed the independent practice and gave them the Exit Ticket. 96 percent of them got it correct.

Back on-track.

I stayed late, so I reflected a bit.

I thought about a phone conference that I had with a parent on Monday. The parent told me that her son had changed since he got in my room. He’s letting his guard down and relaxing. He’s able to be a part of Boy Scouts and participate in things at church.

Another parent said that his son used to get frustrated when he didn’t understand Math concepts. Now, he keeps pushing…Growth Mindset.

The student, who I caught cheating and was struggling in Math, passed the Math Checkpoint. He made a 100 on the Reading quiz.

With these positives, why was I tripping? My kids are fluent readers, reached a milestone in the two major subjects before November, and I’m changing several kids’ lives.

God put me on a mission to make an impact, and I’m doing that.

To keep making that impact, I’m going to heed Robert’s wise words and “Stay The Course.”

I leave you with two things.

1. Are you off-track?

2. Remember to Stay The Course.

God Bless, Jeremiah