Thursday, November 25, 2010

It has been too long

Greetings from Atlanta, Georgia! I am here for the holiday weekend and will hopefully post a few times this weekend from here if time allows.

I haven't posted in about a week and a half, which I worry starts to become a dangerous length of time for a new blogger, so it's time to play catch up.

Things that we've been up to while not blogging:

- New Students: Victoria and I accepted 2 new students each into our cohorts from the incredibly long wait list. This brings my group to 41 students (now surpassing the number in my graduating high school class) and Victoria's to 40. This has required not only tracking them down in class but also administering baseline ACT exams to them after school. All of our new students are boys and one of mine happens to be one of my student's boyfriend- whoops, hope that turns out ok- for right now it's great, she makes sure he shows up everywhere and does everything that he has to. Let's just hope they don't break up for another year and a half at the earliest.

- The Study: I don't think that I've mentioned the study yet on this blog but it has in some ways been the bane of our existence. While the organization that I work with has had many success stories and incredible statistics for the students we serve, we have no actual data on how our students do compared to their counterparts who do not participate in our program. Thus, this year, the organization has commissioned a researcher from Harvard to complete a study about the effectiveness of our program. If the results are what we expect that they will be, it will mean really great things for the organization and open a lot of doors for funding and expansion. This all sounds fine and dandy, right? Right! But, the problem comes with the administration of said study. For the study to be effective it needs a control group- a group of students we can compare our students to. For the most useful results, these students must be pretty equivalent to our students, the only difference being that they are not in our program. So, a randomly selected group of our wait list students were chosen for the task and we, the junior and senior coaches at each school participating, were given the task of tracking down and asking the students to participate in the study. Don't get me wrong, I definitely see the benefit in this study, but it has been incredibly uncomfortable to approach students on our wait list not with the news that they were accepted into the program but instead that they were selected as participants in a study that will hopefully show how much better their lives would have turned out if they had been in the program... It feels kind if wrong. More on that in another post, perhaps. Back to the point, we spent parts of last week in a final attempt to track down students who have so far been unresponsive about their willingness to participate in the study.

- Kaplan Training: Most of mine and Victoria's roles this year is to help our students prepare for the ACT. In order to be qualified and prepared to do this we are being trained by Kaplan, the test prep organization. Every friday for the next few weeks we will be spending 4 hours at Kaplan practice teaching and going through their ACT prep curriculum page by page. Coming up in a future post: opinions/responses to Kaplan training and particularly the Kaplan Method for our students.

- College! This point really has nothing to do with how I've been too busy to blog, but it's still an awesome point to end this post on: the first of Mitch's students got accepted into college! We're all really excited for him and it's really awesome to see all of the organization's hard work paying off.

Happy early hours of Thanksgiving all!

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