Mr. AB of From the TFA Trenches finds that October is a long, long month for teachers. There's week upon week without a vacation, culminating in Halloween, which tends to awaken innate witching tendancies in even the best students. So to keep himself going, Mr. AB has been focusing on the progress he's making with his 4th and 5th graders:
Every week we take a timed math facts test, 100 problems in 5 minutes. 4th and 5th graders should be working on multiplication and division, but this year we started on subtraction. Even at that, only 4 students passed the first week. ... As of last week, over 50 students have passed and the vast majority are in range. I take real pride in that because I decided to stop teaching the district’s math curriculum that never would have addressed their incapability. Without out my intervention, and the flexibility I was given to make that intervention, we probably would’ve sent them to middle school with only a tentative grasp of the most basic of arithmetic. ... they are learning something desperately important and they are learning it because of me. Knowing that will get me to Thanksgiving.
And these kids will get to Thanksgiving knowing how to subtract.