Madisonville has one of the top high schools in the state but this case takes place at one of the feeder junior high schools, Deerfield Junior High. One of Deerfield’s beloved math teachers, Ms. Wright has taken a one year leave and her position is being filled by Clay Rutledge. For Clay, this will be his first teaching assignment and although he was expecting to teach high school, he is not worried about teaching junior high school students.
As Clay starts the school year, he is excited about the opportunity and is impressed with the faculty at Deerfield and even makes a resolution to be an asset to the Deerfield faculty. Unfortunately, only a few weeks after the ...view middle of the document...
Clay walks Ms. Cole through what he sees to be issues within the classroom but does not ask her for help and while she does ask him some questions, she does not offer advice or guidance. In addition to the low grades, some of the parents told Ms. Cole that they were concerned because their children had anxiety and expressed hopelessness when it comes to math. Clay notes that he does not want to give the students false hope and that some will just “never be good in math.” Ms. Cole ends the meeting by asking Clay to help relieve some of the anxiety his students are feeling but again does not offer any advice of guidance.
Clay leaves the meeting without setting any next steps or action items with Ms. Cole but does say to himself that he needs to put together a plan.
Although Clay states that he was excited about this opportunity, deep down he was disappointed that he wasn’t offered a positon at the more prestigious Madisonville Senior High like his friend Lyle. He looked at this assignment as a one-and-done and next year he would be teaching at Madisonville High. This over-confidence led to a several key misses. First, even though he noted that the student’s behavior and attention could be vastly different each day, he did not see the need to differentiate his teaching strategies or his class room management style and just chalked the students who were struggling off as some students are “just bad in math.” Whether this lack of engagement was due to laziness or lack of self-awareness is not clear, but the assumption could be made that it was a combination of both.
The students are not sure what to think. For those who are serious and have a good mathematical sense, they can get through the class even with all the distractions. For those students who need more help with math, it is clear that Clay’s strategies are not helping to improve how they interact with math and if anything they are feeling less confident every day. Even when they express their concerns to Clay, he does not respond with any helpful ideas and so the students continue their downward spiral of hopelessness. For students who are attending a feeder school to prestigious high school, to be told that you aren’t good at something only produces worry and anxiety as there is a lot of pressure to succeed.
It is important that parents be engaged with their children’s education and these parents are concerned not only with their children’s grade but the anxiety they are feeling. By first meeting with Clay they show respect for him and his position as the teacher, but when they don’t feel that he has any ideas or solutions, they elevate the issue to the Principal.
Not only is Ms. Cole the Principal, but she has teaching experience and is very up to date with different teaching methodologies and strategies. Even when parents elevated their concerns, other than meeting with Clay, she does not help him to devise a plan to help him develop the right...