I've what? Got another student?

Well, we made it through Halloween, and now just have to make it through tomorrow when all of the kids are a little green at the gills. I've been watching my lower-skilled class for two months now, and I feel I'm finally getting a 'handle' on where they are...
Of course, then last week I get two new students wandering into class. And then today, I get another. As it is, I've hit the "limit" for new kids, but with each new student that wanders in, it's not just one more student--it's an exponential increase in the amount of time I spend on lessons, classroom management issues, and planning.
I really want each of my students to succeed, and I can see them improving. But with such a needy class, it is inevitable that, each lesson, someone's questions go unanswered and someone else doesn't get the personal time and help they need to really understand. Each time I get a new student, I think that if I could just split the class into two smaller classes of twenty, and stop time so I could teach both classes separately, then I could really make a difference. The one saving grace, I feel, is that I have them for both 7th and 8th grade. It makes me feel much better to think of this year as the year I show them what "students" do (i.e. turn in their homework!) and use next year to prepare them for high school (and beyond!). It's not that I've written this year off academically, but I have realized that my goals for this class are both smaller and more meaningful. Sure, we're not drilling parts of speech (although, odds are low that would happen in any class of mine), but we are learning to organize our thoughts, not randomly guess answers, and analyze what we need to do without giving up first.
And those, I think, are some of the toughest lessons out there.

Tags: musings, school