One thing I love about Teach For America is all of the support available to corp members. Today, I had a visit by Tom Shepley, Senior Managing Director of Programs of the Greater New Orleans Region, stopped by my school today to give be some advice in becoming a more effective teacher in my school’s learning environment. I must say he is amazing! He listened to me, offered support, and more importantly gave me ideas that I can use in the classroom immediately.
Each week, my students take what is called an AMS (Academics Monitoring System) test. These tests are three parts: unseen reading comprehension, grammar, and passage editing. Since the beginning of school my students have been struggling with these tests each week. I do not create the assessments nor do I see them before they are administered so I have little knowledge of what will be on the tests, except for grammar because grammar tests the objectives taught the week before. Week after week, my students were performing poorly on both the unseen reading comprehension and paragraph editing portions of the exams. I was stuck because I was not sure exactly how to improve these scores.
Today, Tom (who has a background in teaching literacy) gave me a couple strategies to use in my classroom. He helped me analyze the types of test questions that normally came up on the test and gave me ways to focus on these skills in my classroom. I cannot wait to try them out and monitor the results. Currently, my goal is to have a class average of at least 80% on these tests, but we continue to fall short by scoring around 78%. With the new reading comprehension strategies Tom offered me, as well as the new ideas I was already implementing since the new year, I hope to see my students’ scores rise well above a class average of 80%.
Before I end, I must also send a big shout out to my Program Director Brianne. She’s always a phone call away when I need someone to vent to when I’m had a difficult day.