One of the decisions I struggle with the most is whether to focus on understanding or getting through the curriculum. This is a struggle I have especially with math. I work with students who often require extra practice and more taught lessons to understand something, but when you slow down to be able to do this you are risking running out of time to finish the whole curriculum by the end of the year.
Last year I taught a sub-separate math class that had less than 10 students. It started as a way that I could really dig deep and spend the time teaching them in ways that they would really understand. But, as the year progressed I realized that we were about a month behind their general education peers. At this point I had to weigh the pros and cons of both sides of this. Going slow and at the speed of the students will send them on to ninth grade with a toolbox of things that they may remember how to do and will result in them having a stronger background knowledge. But, if I do not cover all of the eighth grade curriculum these students will be seeing things in ninth grade that their teachers are going to expect them to know.
The other factor that goes into this is that MCAS is in April so in theory we should have taught the entire eighth grade curriculum by the end of April in order for them to be successful on this test.
Last year I did not pick either side but instead fell somewhere in the middle. I introduced them to everything that the eighth grade curriculum covered but focused only on the basics so that we could spend a little more time on each topic.
How do you handle this problem? Let me know in the comments.