Friday, May 29, 2009

Everything seemed right.

Goal of the week: SURVIVAL in the CRAZY...

Thought of the day: Everything seemed right.

Mass pandemonium. That is all that can be said about today. I had my mother come in to make the kids smile. They do love her so. I had kids stay in my class all day and watch movies. Only about 10 or so students showed up for any of my classes.

I was planning on showering the kids with cookies and brownies that I had made for them while they finished the movies that we started yesterday. I grossly overshot the amount of cookies that I would need since most of my students were not in attendance.

Things that I have taken away from today: most of the teachers done come in. They have taken a personal day. This sends a message to the students that the day is not important. Also, I'd like to comment on how many of my students stayed after school to help me take stuff out of my room. The former teacher that I replaced also showed up. He walked into my class during the day and without a word to me started unloading things that were his. I had no problem with him removing his things, but he was disrupting me with my students which did irritate me. He finally said hello and a few other things to me, but still. He came in with 3 other people to help him unload his stuff. That was odd. I guess he told other teachers that the stuff in his room was fair game because I had another teacher just walk in while I was with my students and start pulling the maps off the walls.

When all was said and done, my mother and I had an interesting day. I will take the memory of the kids staying after school to talk to me and help me pack up my room in my heart for a long time. I didn't cry today. I made it through without crying. Actually, I was happy to see the kids move on to better things. It seemed right. Everything seemed right. Finally.

This was not what I expected...

Goal of the week: Survive the last week of school! I will not cry I will not cry I will not cry.

Thought of the day: This was not what I expected...

So, in all of the ins and outs that have happened this year, the last day of school was something of a surprise - just like everything else on this journey. I expected at least a touch of likeness to my average day teaching with the exception that there would be no more days for that year.

Oh, was I wrong.

For starters, most of the teachers were not there. They took the day off and had subs in. Most of the subs were not taking attendance... so think mass pandemonium. There were kids in the halls, kids just explored classes that they thought were interesting, kids leaving whenever they felt like it. The inmates were running the asylum.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Just say no to apathy.

Goal of the week: It's the last week of school. I think that I'm completely exhausted and in danger of being mentally burned out if I don't take better care of myself. My goal this week should be to just chill and try and make it through.

And to think that I used to look forward to finals week when I was in high school. I liked the studying and the organizing that was done at the end of the semester. It really helped me to pull everything together. I wish I could get that back again or just impart it to my students. They are so apathetic about the entire process.

Thought of the day: Just say no to apathy.

1. In most of my classes my attendance (out of 29 to 31) is between 6 and 9. I expect last period to have under 5, since that's how many of my students showed up yesterday.

2. The students have taken their finals - though some still have trouble with the idea of a due date. I don't understand how so many of my students can be sick on a finals week. What is going on with that?

3. Most of my students don't study. This is a huge problem. They just don't care nor see the point in being educated. They think it's an annoyance that the teachers, administration, and government just think up to complicate their lives.

4. The longer I teach here, the greater the degree of burnout. It has to do with the more order that I impart in my classroom. The order is necessary because it helps me to get through my days at a teacher and not get sick, but the kids fight against it because it makes them have to work more.

5. I really need to do a Year-End-Review. I've come a long way as a teacher and I need to think about that. I think I should do that on Monday when I'm here for records close-out day. There were things that I did in class that I swore I'd never do - like lie to students, make-up grades, allow some students out of the rules and not others, throw out a test that I created and gave students, have movies in class on more than one occasion (espeically ones that weren't at all related to my subject), and ignoring students.

6. I'm worried that I may have been infected with the APATHY that is rampant around this building. It's like it's in the air and the amount of time you are exposed to the building increases your risk of becoming completely and totally apathetic. You start to not care about how your classes are doing or if you are teaching well. You start to get tired and walk around the room less. You just get so tired. I think, actually, it's not the apathy in the building that's getting to me but rather that I'm just tired. Each day when I come in I've just gotten used to the excuses, the lack of work, the constant complaining. It takes an emotional toll on you to be positive, caring, and open-minded despite so many lies, so much lack of effort, so much unabashed disrespect for education.

7. Maybe I'm just in a bad mood for no reason. I used to feel such pleasure at just seeing my students and seeing them in the room - but it's not enough anymore. I want to see them excel. They are wasting their minds and it hurts me. Perhaps this is the way that I can keep my distance next year. It's absolutely imperative that I do not get as attached to my students as I did this year because it interferes with my ability to teach them well. I need to keep my eye on the ball and remember that they are my students. My job is to educate them - with respect and fairness, but first and foremost to educate them.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Finals are no longer fun but the kids are learning.

Goal of the week: Survival. I really need a nap.

Thought of the day: Finals are no longer fun but the kids are learning.

My finals last semester were horrible. I had so many students come to be inside and outside of class to finish their finals. They changed the number and content of their group members up until the day of the presentation. It was funny, but a horrible mess and the actual presentations didn't contain any information that was credible. Other than being amused, it was worthless.

I'm really, really annoyed by the students that MISSED my final and then are mad at me that I'm having them retake it (which I shouldn't at all) after school. Because I didn't set up a procedure for my students prior to the final for how this would be handled, then I won't dock them for it. After all, I didn't say which people who missed the final would be able to take it and which would not. However, for next year I have a plan.

Well before the final - students will be warned that missing the day of the final is not an option. If they miss the day of the final, then they need to have a parent/guardian sign one of my permission slips allowing them to take the final late.

As for projects - if the due date has been posted for any day that the students have been in class then they knew when it was and they have to take it. For projects, the due date that was posted is the due date. If the students miss it then they miss it, unless they get one of my permission slips and have their parent/guardian to sign it.

Being an effective teacher is difficult. It certainly does take all of the fun out of the process, but in the end having the students learn is worth more than a couple of laughs. That, and when I'm dead and gone I want the students to respect me for being an educator and not for making them laugh. One is definitely more important than the other.

The kids this year treat me like I'm one of them - unless I start acting like a "teacher." When I do that, I walk into school and pretend that I'm a Nun at a Catholic School. It helps me get into character. I need to be caring but tough on them. I need to be proper and obey all of the rules. I need to do all of these things and constantly be on top of everything. It's a tough job and I'm still getting the hang of it.

Maybe I'll get the hang of it before I hang myself in frustration. Some days I'm more optimistic than others...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Finals - Day Two

Goal of the Week: Survival!!!

Thought of the Day: Would the students with their work done please stand up?

Let's re-cap.

Friday of last week I gave my students time in class to work on their projects and ask me questions. Then we had a long weekend during which the students could finish their work. They were warned to have the presentations ready to go on Tuesday at the start of class because we were doing practice presentations. Ok... that sums it up.

Today, of the students I have that showed up there are FAR too many with no work done. I told them to do their practice presentation from memory so they could get credit on it. That cheered some of them up into doing the practice presentation.

I'm worried about how tomorrow will go. Some of my students are already done. Many look like they have not even started yet and will throw something together tonight. All have the potential in the to do better. I have such bright students. I just wish they had the confidence and drive to do what it takes to excel. Hopefully, I can push them that way. :)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day - No School!

Memorial Day - No School!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Finals - Day One

Goal of the Week: In a word - survival.

Thought of the Day:

I'd really like to say that I'm making a difference by eliminating illiteracy and fostering critical thinking skills in the youth of today - but it's just not true. I'm so exhausted I hurt down to my teeth.

The worst part about this is that I feel more pathetic about my performance than I feel exhausted and sick. I want to do so many things in class but my brain's creativity and my body's abilities do not match. I just want to sleep the minute the kids leave until they come back in again. I don't even want to waste the time to drive home - just let me curl up on something flat and pass out cruel world!

This is not overly dramatic. I'm done. I've worked in FDA labs under deadlines and super-high pressure, researched an entire masters degree in a month, been through Grad school, read the entire literary works of 5 authors (published and unpublished) in 2 months, and have consistently bitten off more than I could chew and chewed it my enitre life.

I have met my match and more.

I give up. M'aidez. White flag. I'm out.

For all teachers, professors, TA's, and other educators out there: I salute you. You are the few, the proud, the chronically overworked and underpaid, the thankless, and the knights of educational virtue. We fight a constant battle against a tireless foe - ignorance.

True ignorance is " lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned or uninformed; unaware." It is not stupidity, as most people seem to assume. Rather, it is the state of never having been exposed to knowlege that would make you aware of your environment or navigate better in the world around you. It is the mortal enemy of those brave (or insane) knights of education and champions of thinking.

When I think I can't take another minute of excuses, tardy students, ill-prepared students, cheating, chronic failing, obvious disrespect for education, and general antipathy for discipline and achievement then I remember this: it's not about me. It's about the next generation and more to come. Humanity has made the gains that it has only through building upon the collective knowlegde of those who came before. To not be exposed to that collective knowlegde - regardless of whether it is absorbed or not - is a sin beyond measure.

Who knows which students may be listening and decide to make the next great addition to humanities' collective knowledge? Who knows which students in my class may walk away more aware of the beauty and mystery in this world? Who knows how many students might remember something important in a time of need?

Teachers make a difference only by striving constantly, through pain, sleelessness, exhaustion, and resistance to fight ignorance. What type of warrior would I be if I only fought when it was easy?

There are two paths in this world: one is easy and one is difficult. Only one is right. You guess which.

Over and out.
- S.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Exhaustion sets in...

Goal of the week: I was doing so week at getting organized until I realized that I'd been concentrating on getting my procedures back in place so hard that I let my binder with all of my lesson plans in it fall to the wayside again. I always let me lesson plans slip. I have no idea why I do that.

Thought of the day: Exhaustion sets in...

I think it's time to admit that this job is a lot harder than I have been willing to give myself credit for. I think that because I do the same thing basically all day long that it's really not that hard. I tell myself that it can't be exhausting because I'm just walking around and talking to kids all day. How hard can that really be, right?

I think that I don't really give myself credit for the fact that I teach 8 hours a day. I start before school and teach after school. I teach on my lunch break. I don't stop or take breaks. I use my prep time to run around like crazy and prep for the next day. I let the kids into my room during every single one of my breaks to try and raise their achievement and help them every chance I can. Their schedules are so nutty that it's what you need to do to help them out. Most of my students work after school so you can't always help them then.

I stay after school to grade and organize when I finally get a few minutes to myself once all of the craziness is done. Sometimes, that doesn't start until after 4 when school is out at 2:30. I love my job but I guess I just don't really add up how exhausting it can be.

When I go more than a month without a break I feel like my body is made of lead and I want to die. The weekends don't get here soon enough and I don't have enough energy for my students. That is a cardinal sin in my book. I need to be in tip top shape for my students at all times or else what am I doing here.

This last week in the prep week before finals. Then finals are here. After that, we have Memorial day off and Tuesday through Friday is finals week. Then we're done. For the summer. I can already here Alice Cooper in my hear crooning "Schools out for summer!" It always made me so sad when school was out before. Now, I'm sure I'll be depressed and sad but all I can feel right now is numb. Nix that because all I feel numb but painfully hopeful that I might get rid of this headache that I've had for the past week because I can't seem to get enough sleep.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My heart cries for my students.

Goal of the week: Getting organized. How's that going for me? I need to make a list of the classroom procedures that I use in my room and how effective they have been for me this year. Some procedures have been horrible and I have discontinued them. Some have been great and I've permanently adopted them. Some, I really need to work on because they are great but I need to be consistent with them no matter how difficult it is!

Thought of the day: My heart cries for my students.

I'm absolutely horrified right now because of the test day and test corrections. My students, no average, scored about 25 to 28 out of 50 on yesterday's test.

In fact... when I handed back the graded test today most of the students were unable to figure out their percentage on the test. There continued to be unable to do so even when I told them that each test question was worth two percentage points, or that you take your score and multiply by two. I demonstrated on the board but this math is beyond a lot of them.

I now have headache. Or a heartache to be more precise. My heart hurts for them. So many of them don't understand how serious it is that they are missing the vital skills that they need.

I can't teach quickly enough to make up for the skills that they lack. There's just no way that I can give them all the skills that they need. Most of my students don't have the literacy skills to read a textbook written at the 9th grade level. They ask me what words like "critical" and "atmospheric" mean.

It's not that they're unintelligent. Quite far from it. My students are bright, just ignorant in the truest definition. They just don't have an education and it makes them seem like less than what they are. I just want to cry from the sin of it. They are such wonderful people and they could be so much more with an education. They have so much potential and they're wasting it.

I don't know how to make this clearer to them. They all want the easy way out and there is no easy way out. Not for life and not for an education. This much I have learned in my first year teaching in this rare and forgotten place on Earth. These students have been taught to take the easy way out by everyone around them so much that it's scary.

No one at all in their lives or around them has shown them what hard work means. Or what determination is. Or how to devote yourself to becoming better and evolving to perfection. Or to DISCIPLINE. Someone needs to show them. Someone.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I made a student cry.

Goal of the week: Organize. I'm working on it. Yesterday was bad but today will be better.

Thought of the day: I made a student cry.

Yesterday, while my students were reviewing for the test, I got to talking with a student who I refer to in my mind as "the gentleman gangbanger." He's super intelligent and one of those kids that gets into a *bunch* of trouble but is just a wonderful person. I love his company.

He started talking to me about his life. I don't know why the kids do this and it always astounds me that they open up to me about such personal things. I'm so afraid that I will do something to ruin or abuse this wonderful gift of trust that they are giving me.

This poor kid. His life has been filled with pain and death. He was holding strong and was not letting anyone, including me, see how much pain was beneath the surface. He was using that trick that men (yes, older men) use when they are in great pain and they turn their faces 3/4ths away so you can't see how much they are holding onto their faces so they don't lose control. The secret is in how much they are holding onto their faces. Poor baby. It broke my heart and I wanted to cry. Almost everyone in his life has died. Most of his family except his father and brother are dead. Car accident took most of them. His mother was first some time ago. His year it was his girlfriend and his cousin.

He turned away and just said "it makes me wonder sometimes why so many bad things happen. I just have to think if I'm a bad person because these things keep happening to me." Then he stopped talking and looked down.

I needed to say something. I just paused and thought because it needed to be right. It needed to be right. He needed the right thing to make it better.

I told him: "For what it's worth, D----, I know it's not much, but every day when you walk in here I smile. I smile because I love having you in my class. You are a wonderful person and you make me laugh because I think you're great, even when you're exhausted and you just come in and pass out (because that is kinda funny)."
"I know sometimes it's hard. But trust me - sometimes in life the most horrible things happen to the nicest people and you are one of the nicest people. I think you're great. You always make me smile and laugh and I look forward to having you in my class whenever you're here."

Then I got distracted by another student coming up and asking a question and a disruption on the other side of the room. It was 2 minutes before I could look around for D--- again. He wasn't in his seat and I got panicked. I looked around and was worried that I'd said the wrong thing and upset him to where he'd left the room. You have to be careful with students that are in crisis because you don't know what will upset them.

When I looked over, he was over in the back of the room by the trashcan with his back to the room. He was rubbing his eyes very covertly. He stayed back there for a few minutes.

I didn't say anything to him the rest of class and let him have his space. I think he needed it. He is a very strong kid and he needs to maintain that image.

I like that one. I like that one immensely. Please, please, please, whoever is up there and listening, please, please, please... protect that one.

Monday, May 18, 2009

My students don't study...

Goal of the week: Getting organized. Whoohoo. I'm working on this bit by bit.

Thought of the day: My students don't study...

My students just walked in for a test that they were warned about yesterday and the day before (and that we went over together) and said "it's ok - I guess I won't take it now... I'll take it later."

I'm stunned. Actually, I'm angry.

Actually, I'm mad at myself.

People treat you the way that you want to be treated. I've taught my students that I can be treated this way. I've taught them that education is worthless and that it's something that you can put off and disrespect. I've taught them that by offering them these opportunities.

And this is something that I will change next year.

I don't believe in changing things halfway though the year or semester unless it's an emergency. This is not an emergency because it's an established procedure. It's not really hurting them.

Ugh.

I think one good thing has come out of this. One of my students just told me "Ms. D., I think this is the hardest test you've ever given us. Usually I don't need to study and I can just take the test and know everything." I'm challenging them more but not to the point where it's difficult. It's a good balance.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Goal of the week: Getting organized again! How's that going... I think it's going fairly well... actually.

Thought of the day: Apparently, my "just talking" method doesn't work any more.

I used to do this at the beginning of the year. Actually, I used to do this all the time when I started teaching. It doesn't really work for my classes anymore. It sooooooo doesn't work. It so doesn't work so much. SOOOOOOOOOOOO doesn't work.

In teacher-y speak, we call this the "Socratic" method of teaching. It's where you just have a discussion in class. I used to love this method, but if you don't do it in class for awhile then the kids really get out of practice.

I love this method and it's a shame that I've gotten out of practice. I loved it in high school when I had a teacher that used to do it on Friday's. In my Geography class and Psychology class in high school (who were both taught by the same teacher - good old Mr. McMillian) on Friday's it was current event day. We had to come in with a newspaper article to discuss in class. Everyone had to take a turn talking about it for credit. It usually sparked some form of debate and we could bring in anything to talk about. The teacher was an interesting person because his ENTIRE room was wallpapered in the covers form time magazine.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Did I do the wrong thing getting too close?

Goal of the week: Getting back on a schedule.
Now that graduate courses are over for me until mid-June, I can afford some time until school is out to get myself back into my procedures as a teacher. That way, I have good teacher habits that I can remember to start myself off right next year. Yippie!

Thought of the day: Did I do the wrong thing getting too close?

Ok, that's sort of my thing in teaching. I get close to them over time and that's how I maintain control in my room. I don't order, I ask. I don't yell, I say "please." I do everything with respect and they respect me. However, I often wonder if I've gotten too close. Have I lost my professionalism? Do the students see me negatively when I hug them when I see them crying in the halls after school? Is that bad? When I ask about their families is that bad? Am I setting myself up for failure by getting to close to them? I wonder about these things.

I guess I'll have to learn in time. I don't want to be a push-over.

I don't want my students to know too much about my lifel. It makes things complicated.

I don't want my closeness to them to interfere with my job.

Suckage. I want to be a good educator but I want to make sure they're all ok as well. It's not a good thing. However, you can't be both a therapist and a teacher. The two just don't mix.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I think I'm being sexually harassed by a girl.

Goal of the week: Back to basics - getting myself back on a schedule. How's that going for me? I think it's going well. I seem to be going back to my old habits of planning my lessons and adding some new ones of a lesson planning binder (hardcopy with examples like how I did for my D.O.T., because I really liked how it was sitting all there nice and ready to show the students if they needed an example later).

Thought of the day: I think I'm being sexually harassed by a girl.

I really need to control what I say to children.

Case in point. One of my *female* students today told me I looked like a pornstar.

This was, apparently, a complement. I found this out when I responded aghast and in anger that a 15 year old girl called me a woman that took money for sex in front of 16 year old boys. She was shocked and didn't understand why I was upset.

"But Ms. D, it's a complement! Why you be so upset??"

I tried to tell her that were I was raised, that wasn't a complement. In fact, it was an insult to be called a porn star, but she didn't get it. She was just so shocked that anyone wouldn't be happy to be called a porn star.

That was yesterday. Today, she called me a "hott teacher, with my back a leaned back and my chest thrust out." I was leaning back in a chair before class started. In a suit. Ok. I'm a little nervous now. I've never been sexually harassed by a girl.

I was so angry that I told her that is she said anything sexual again that I'd send her to the dean for inappropiate comments. She was quiet for 5 minutes and withdrawn. Now I'm worried that I've done something wrong. I just can't shake that she was making me uncomfortable. Now I'm worried about her and I'm worried that I said the wrong thing. Talk about lose - lose. :(

Monday, May 11, 2009

Thoughts on nightschool...

Goal of the week: Back to basics - getting back on a schedule. Oh, how I'm so happy to have the free time just to be a teacher and not a teacher/student/sleepdeprivedfreak. I can just get some lessons done and catch up on doing normal things like eating and sleeping!!!

Thought of the day: Thoughts on nightschool...

You know, the D.O.T., for all of it's hellish annoyance, really helped me to be a better teacher. It was this long paper where I had to justify everything that I did during a week of my teaching in one of my classes. I also had to pick out two of my students and follow them through the lessons and show how what I was doing was helping them. There were guided essays where I talked about specifically what I was doing that was helping the whole class and the two students that improved their education.

Just going through and thinking about it with these guided questions really helped me to think about the process of education and what it means. I can now plan a unit and specific lessons much better (I feel) and I could before. I think I was fumbling a bit with the concept before and it's a lot more streamlined now.

My graduate program is doing it's job, although it's a bit scary in the transitions. I guess that happens when you work and go to nightschool. Hehe.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Organization - because I love it so!

Goal of the week: Now that the D.O.T. is turned in, I'm goal-less. I like that feeling.

Thought of the day: Organization - because I love it so!

My classroom is slowly getting more organized. I've got a system in place now for a lot of things. These include, but are not limited to the following: going to the bathroom/passes out of the room in general, turning in all work, passing back work, getting the students attention, groupwork, recording grades, and recording negative behavior. One of the best ones that I've come up with was recording the student attendance, Do Nows, and daily work on one sheet of paper for each period. It just allows me more free space with my hands. I also have the board the same way every day.

My favorite thing that I've come up with this year by far is the Homework Calendar. It lets the students know what we've done in class every day in class for the whole semester. I go up and write down what we've done in class each day one one of those 4 dollar desktop calendars that I keep on my bulletin board. I keep all of the past months up on thumbtacks above the current month so the students can reference it at any time. It keeps both them and me organized.

Now, I just need a system for keeping track of the missing work and current grades up to that second. The students want to know what they are missing for the entire semester every single second and they want to know in the middle of class while I am trying to teach. That is so not cool. There needs to be an organized way to deal with that. I just need to think of that. I've tried keeping a spreadsheet for the whole class and that was too disorganized. I've tried keeping spreadsheets for each student but that is so much work to update each night for 150 people. There has to be an easy way to do this. Ugh.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Oh where oh where have my students gone?

Goal of the week: The D.O.T. project is turned in as of today. Thank goodness. Now I can get back to finishing my year in peace and getting back to being a teacher again. I really just want to catch up on my lesson plans. The D.O.T. helped me to understand unit planning and lesson planning much better, so I wanted to sit down and work on some unit plans for the last 3 weeks of school.

Topic of the day: Oh where oh where have my students gone?

What happened to my attendance? The number of kids in my classes had dropped from really huge at the beginning of the year down to almost nonexistent. Where are my students. I have 12 students in most of my classes.

Despite everything, there are statistics online that say that the attendance at my school is at 95%. That can't be right. My rosters say that there should be 20 something kids in my classes. Ugh.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sick Day

Sick day...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How did I get all my students on board?

Goal of the week: Get the D.O.T. turned in. This is my main and only goal at this point. This monster of a paper is helping me because I'm finally learning how to do everything for unit and lesson planning. I had been tracking down other teachers and books on how to do this all last semester and this semester and this silly project finally helped me learn how to do it. Who knew?

Thought of the day: How did I get all my students on board?

I had this thought the other day that I've done something right and I don't know how I've done it. Suddenly, and I don't know how, all of my students will do whatever I ask them to do in class. I don't know how I've accomplished this. I thought back to the start of the year and I had to bend over backwards to get them to do anything. Now, I can get them to do stuff just by asking and saying please and they will. What happened?

I need to figure this out so I can repeat it next year. I just can't figure out what I did to make it right. I have to replicate this. Ugh.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Friday, May 1, 2009

Grades and how I hate them... again

Goal of the week: Lesson plans... I think I'm finally beginning to understand the way to plan units and all of that. The D.O.T. project is helping me out with that, strangely.

Thought of the day: Grades and how I hate them... again

I hate entering grades. I really, really do. I know that I need to do it but every time I do the kids get all focused on the grades and go nuts. I've even had a few parents focus on the grades and go nuts. I've had administrators focus on the grades and go nuts.

The grades *are* a way for us to tell if the students are absorbing the material... but it's all so arbitrary. How do we determine what is worthy of a grade and what isn't? Every teacher does it a different way? With no set system, then how do we really know if the kids are learning and if they aren't? I want to know that.

The total lack of set way of doing things bothers me. I want to really know without a doubt each grade that I assign is showing what each student knows in my class and I can't really say that for certain. So I don't feel comfortable. Until I find a system that works for me and makes me feel comfortable... I just will continue to hate giving grades.

I just can't say for certain that each grade I give is truly fair. How can I say that it is an exact reflection of what that student knows in my class?