Guilt v. Burnout
And then two things happened. First, we found out that only 1 of our 8th graders got a specialized high school acceptance (to Bronx Science). Second, it occurred to me that I could stop teaching after school. Other teachers have. In fact, one of the many extra hats I wore last week was that of after-school teacher rustler, trying to coax more teachers into offering some kind of enrichment program.
I decided to quit HS Prep.
I like the kids in my HS Prep class. It doesn't take that much prep time. I think it's good for them to spend time with each other and with geeky me, working on hard practice problems and learning to do tricky math problems in their heads. But I'm not convinced that I get anyone into any specialized high schools. A few kids come in and get 25 out of 30 on the practice test the first week; the others get 6 or 8 or maybe 11 out of 30. A few months later, the first group is getting 28 out of 30 right, and the second group might be up to 10 or even 14 out of 30, but it isn't going to be enough. I can tell you right now that 2 of my 6 kids have a chance.
I felt this huge weight lift from my shoulders. It's such a small group, and I don't think it's even helping them that much, and I could get my Wednesday afternoons back.....! I'd miss that group of kids, I'd miss the money, but the time - o, the time!
I told my AP. She told my principal. Who promptly spent 30 minutes talking me into continuing the program. Just because only 1 of our 8th graders got in, that's something to celebrate, not a reason to give up. Some bigger schools get no acceptances! We have commitments to the kids, and to their parents. It's good for them. Can't we find a way to make it easier for you? Can we buy materials and just have them take practice tests? Is there something on-line, some CD-ROM, anything? The final decision is up to you, she said, but I really hope you can find a way to make it work.
She's right, of course. And yet, I know that sometimes you have to put yourself first.
And so the decision has not been made yet, and the burden is back on my shoulders.
God, I am ready for this vacation.