Week four of camp: What really counts

My stats for Camp NaNoWriMo are embarrassing. However, I am proud of the fact that I blogged every week, which is a goal I set for myself in late March. And while writing often slips down to the bottom of my to-do list, it has not fallen off completely, even if my desk is a mess of all things not related to writing, and I spend far to much time wandering around my house completely overwhelmed by the stuff that seems to multiple while I sleep.

Data is great. It helps with identifying a problem and measuring the success of implemented strategies (wow, I totally sounded like an administrator right there). Data can also make you feel worthless, like when I look at my project statistics and the bulls-eye that barely made it through the second outer ring.

I taught special education in middle school for four years. During my second year, our building was in danger of a massive restructuring and forced to focus a ridiculous amount of time and energy on improving test scores. My small group of students were reading below grade level. Way below grade level. To go from a 1 to a 3 (out of 4) on their state tests was not reasonable despite the desperate pleas of my administration, and I struggled to find ways to help them feel successful. In the weeks leading up to the tests, I set individual, attainable goals for each student, worked on skills that would help them do better — and here’s the most important part — taught them how to be calm and confident during a testing situation. Not focus on what they couldn’t accomplish, but rather what they could. I’m happy to say that many of my students improved on their previous scores, and we celebrated the success — even though their scores were still below the “acceptable” level.

I am a bit ashamed by the lack of overall progress during camp but happy to say that my percentage accomplished went from 27.6% in July to 36.9% in April. An improvement. And while my final day of working on the camp project was spent deleting more words than adding new ones, I decided that what really counts is forward momentum. Not giving up. I will continue to write, continue to work on my WIP, continue to participate in the monthly writing challenges.

What really counts is attitude. Confidence. Belief in yourself no matter the obstacle. My students were told they were the lowest performers in the school, but they refused to let a number dictate what they were capable of accomplishing. In my current job, I see adults return to school after years of working, raising a family, overcoming illness — they sit in my office and tell me they are finally ready to earn their degree and will do whatever it takes.

What really counts is determination.

 

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