I'm a first year teacher and am having trouble with my algebra one classes. Perhaps someone out there can lend a hand.
I have two classes of freshmen algebra I students and both sections have done miserably on the latest test I administered. I found that students will claim they are comprehending the material prior to the test, but on test day, it is clear that few have caught onto what was going on in class. My tests are primarily focused on material from the homework, but also includes questions that require students to apply the topics to extended or open-ended problems. The errors that I see on the tests are ones that I could not anticipate. I've explored different methods of instruction and assessment (i.e. question and answer, group work, essays, discovery, etc.), but not much is helping.
I spoke with my department head and he said to maintain my high expectations and soon enough the students will rise to them. But they're not rising. This now leads me to wonder am I effectively doing my job? I put in endless hours of preparation, but I'm obviously not reaching them. I have a mentor teacher and she gave me some good advice, but I was wondering if anyone else might have some additional words of wisdom?
I understand that first year teaching is tough and there can be quite a bit of heartache, but it's getting to be a bit much. I don't relish in the thought of being remembered as anyone's dreaded algebra one teacher from 9th grade. Comments from all are welcome.