Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"We're losing control"

I've been meaning to blog about the how the 37.5 minutes of extra tutoring has been going at my school since my initial reactions about how crazy it was. It hasn't gotten any better. The time between when the kids are dismissed and 37.5 minutes later is absolute chaos most days at my school. I'm not sure how many kids are actually in the tutoring sessions since there seem to be so many wandering the halls. The administrators are in the halls everyday trying to get everyone into a room, but by the time this actually happens 15 or 20 minutes have gone by with no work being done. The kids who do go to tutoring complain that they aren't being helped, and every time I walk by classrooms nothing much seems to be happening.

A really troubling aspect is how the chaos caused by the extra tutoring sessions is limiting the ability of the school to protect its students. The security guards are outside watching the students that are supposed to go home, leaving the inside of the school to the troublemakers. No suprise that there has been a big increase in fights during that time. One of my kids got punched in the face the other day when he tried to stop a bigger kid from stealing his friend's IPod. In the buildup to another fight later on that week during the 37.5 minutes, I went looking for security and couldn't find anyone. The principal has recently been coming to the cafeteria (where the after school kids meet and where most of the fights have been taking place) to get a handle on the situation.

A dean told me that she thinks the extra tutoring will be gone by next year. She seems more exhausted than normal these days and told me that the staff is losing control of the school. I know that the craziness has something to do with the state math tests and the fact that a lot of kids are tired of school around this time of year, but the connection between the chaos in the school and the start of the 37.5 minutes seems too obvious to ignore. The system clearly isn't working here - kids that need help but don't want to stay are leaving and disrupting the tutoring sessions for those that do stay. There isn't enough security to control the complicated dismissal process or to prevent fights during it. The whole thing doesn't seem very well thought out, and it is unfortunate that something that the kids really need (extra help) really isn't helping anyone at all.


Tom Hoffman said...

It has been my experience that in schools that aren't running smoothly, if you add any time in the day that doesn't feel like a regular class, isn't going to be graded, or isn't at least very narrowly defined (like sustained silent reading, you can pull that off IF everyone is strict), it is likely to have a very bad effect, even for things that are widely regarded as best practices, like advisory. Making it apply to only one subgroup of students would only make it worse.

This seems to be the unfortunate reality. I can easily imagine (from my seat in Providence) that in schools that are functioning relatively well, the 37 minutes has been somewhat helpful, but in schools that already were struggling, it would just make things worse.

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

Any accountability there with the tutoring? It sounds like a nightmare to me.

Any administrators taking a turn? Thought so.