Archive for March, 2015

How many people can you fit in a phone booth?

First round of Big Standardized Test is over.  We did it in two days.  Two days of long testing sessions, morning and afternoon. My small group of extra time students frustrated. When you don’t understand what you read, it’s hard to write an essay.  Then they get extra time.  They could have used five minutes extra…not 27.  Sit silently for a half an hour. Nope, can’t draw. Nope, can’t read.  If they have nothing to do, maybe they will write more and better.  Don’t think so. So I walked around and shushed them and recited poetry in my head.

Okay, testing over, and I walk my testing group to lunch.  Eat lunch.  My 7th grade class appears — not at their usual time due to the  odd testing schedule.  After class I walk them to lunch.  The entire 7th grade is being walked to lunch at the same time by their exploratory teachers.  The entire 8th grade is in lunch, waiting to be picked up by their exploratory teachers.  It’s crowded.  “Move to the right!  Move to the right!”  We just might be able to move and then — half of the 6th graders are moving from the gym through the cafeteria back to their classrooms.  The other half is moving down the same hallway toward the gym. Yes, that’s right.  All 800 students and all of their teachers are trying to occupy the same space at the same time.  Eight hundred awkward early adolescents. If someone had yelled ‘fire’ we would have had a tragedy.

But the kids were  great.  Gym teachers with loud, boomy voices took over.  “Move right.”  “Back to the gym.”  “Back to class, 6th grade.”  Slowly the eighth graders moved north, the seventh graders south.  The halls cleared and the 6th graders moved.  Pushing stopped.  They waited until it was clear to move.  They didn’t yell or climb over one another.

Even after being stressed out with almost three hours in testing rooms and more to come, even with the whole day turned inside out, the kids were great.  So that’s my good thing.  Well, it’s always the good thing.  The kids are great.


ten good things…well not quite

It was a very very long week.  No prep two days in a row.  First have to give practice exam to a group of kiddos with IEPs.  During Exploratory Arts planning period, because, you know, they can’t miss one of their real classes.  Next day, world’s longest meeting to explain how to proctor the Big Standardized Test next week.  We all can recite the standard instructions, but we all have questions, because we get to proctor the exam for those kids with accomadations:  read aloud, scribe, extra time.  What exactly can we read?  Can a kid dictating his answers for a scribe be in the same room?  Little time for those questions because we have to go over the important stuff: Tape attendance to the outside of the door. No electronics in the room.  Number 2 pencil.  Once again I get to do my magic trick:  read the math problems out loud to a student without looking at the test.  Oh, and an extra early meeting horizontal articulation meeting.

I better stop before I get more edupressed.  Ten good things:

1. Couldn’t take my kiddos to the 6th grade Band and Orchestra recital because so many parents showed up during the school day to hear their children.  No, it is a good thing when so many parents show up and the children shine.

2. Reading Pirates français des Caraibes with my 8th graders and they’re finally into it.  “Did that just say Antoine had another finacée back in Spain? He’s a cheater!  Nobody in this book tells the truth.” They commented in English, but oh well, it’s been like pulling teeth to get them involved in the story and they finally are.  Now they are excited about deciding who our heroine should pick and are willing to write in French about it.

3. Reading Agents Secrets  with my 7th graders and I managed to get one of my boys to hide in the storage area, dress up in an ugly wig and a hideous dress and pop out as the ‘princesse’.  Huge surprise, huge laughter–then everyone wanted to be someone in the story and act out the chapter.  They then happily storyboarded the chapter with their best stick art.

4. With Band and Orchestra rehearsing and preparing for their recital, one of my classes was very small, so we just played games.  It was great watching kids be kids and negotiate rules.  Best part:  One of them said, “Hey, it’s almost time to go.  Let’s get the chairs back and straightened up.”  Win.

5. Wednesday. It was practice test day, so no prep, but meatball subs almost made up for it. Almost,  but I’ll count it anyway.

6. I’m not an exerciser, but I joined a group of teachers working out after school on Friday.  I can’t keep up, I’m totally out of shape, but there’s finally a feeling of community developing around something positive instead of commiserating.

7.  The kids I’ll have for Big Standardized Test worked their hearts out on the practice test last week.  I’m proud of them and sad that they have to test for hours and hours.

8. The best:  I started practicing for the State French Competition, and the four kids that stayed after school to get started made my week.  They want to write a skit, memorize poems and play French music so they and will stay late to practice and give up a Saturday to compete.  Four out of 170 or so kids, but it was a real pleasure to hang out with them. Reminded me how much fun middle school kids can be.

There.  I wanted ten.  I thought of eight.  But eight good things are eight good things.  Maybe next week, in spite of the Big Standardized Test, there’ll be ten. Or eight.  Eight is enough.



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