It's 3 a.m., and I want to go to bed...**

I'm tired. It's 3:23 in the morning. I visited Dennis's blog and got in on the non-teacher criticism of teachers debate. I'm not sure if my response to his post was coherent, but I'm okay with it if it isn't. Even English teachers can have bad days.

I'm not sure what I'm doing awake at 3 a.m. I know the dog kicked me, but usually I send him back to his bed and fall back asleep. But I can't tonight. My mind is racing, and I think it's going to make me nuts.

I figured rough quarter grades this afternoon. Most of my students are doing leaps and bounds better than they were at the beginning of the year. I even have several of my lower-tracked students I'd feel comfortable bumping up to the average track next year. They've worked so hard and made so much progress. But I have a couple students I'm really worried about.

One hasn't passed an English class since 5th grade. At the middle school, students can fail a class and still be passed on to the next grade. This particular student dislikes English, and thus chose to fail it. So, the result is a young man with above-average intelligence, but no basic English skills. Because of his ability-level, he's in an average class; however, he doesn't have the same skill-sets or the same drive as my other students. He squeaked by last semester with a D-, but I'm afraid that won't happen this semester. If he'd do the work of the class, I could work with him. But he doesn't. He finds creative ways to hide the fact that he's sleeping in class instead of paying attention. I call on him constantly and make him sit as close to me as he can; however, he still finds a way to ignore everything going on in the room. I want to see him pass, but I don't know how to help him.

I have several who miss several days per week. They have doctor's notes but miss so much school they can't keep up. I give extended schedules so they have deadlines of major assignments; however, the students miss class and don't get necessary information...then don't understand the homework assignments. Again, I'm at a loss.

Then there's that class. I think most teachers have that one class that simply annoys the snot out of them...I have mine. Because of tracking, these students come out of lower-level math and science classes, and many times at my school, lower-level means behavior problems. So, they all filter out into my English class. Individually I love them all, but as a class, they make me nuts. I have one student who's the ring-leader of them all. I've found that if I can keep him busy, I'm fine, but he's very apathetic when it comes to schoolwork...so, it's difficult to keep him busy.

The one who really is keeping me awake, however, isn't failing. Actually, he is one of my lower-tracked monsters who's finally realized the importance of education...a little late, but better late than never. He wants to go to a Christian college and become a minister; however, because he's in the lower-tracked English class, he's going to have a difficult time getting into college and also succeeding in a college English class. So, I've told him I'll work with him before school twice a week. We'll really work on his writing skills...teach him those skills that he needs to do well. He's also going to have extra outside reading...more difficult than what he's getting right now. He's agreed to this, and I'm drafting up a contract for him to sign saying that if I'm putting in the extra hours, then he'll put in the extra work.
If I didn't think he'd put in the extra effort, I wouldn't have agreed to help him. What I'm more nervous about is that I'll fail him. He is banking on this. He wants to succeed, and I want to see him succeed. But what if he doesn't? I know that's not the attitude to have going into this, but I just don't want to send him up to a higher-tracked class next year and have him fail miserably. That would be such a blow to his self-esteem...not to mention all the work he's putting in.
So, that's the real reason I'm up at 3 a.m. I'm researching ways to teach basic writing skills. In the classroom, I use the "Revise, revise, revise" strategy...and that works, but I'm trying to see if there's something more. I suppose I'm looking for that magic solution...you know the one that won't fail?

So, back to Googling "magic solution+writing."

**title taken from Of a Revolution (O.A.R.) "Night Shift"** Song title as blog title idea from Leesepea. I didn't mean to steal her idea; however, that song is stuck in my head...although it's nearly 4 a.m. now.