March 30, 2010

The MAP is almost here...can you feel my nervousness permeating from my keyboard? This is the big standardized test that decides my students' fate. What class they will be in next year, how much funding the school gets, if the school will get funding next year, how many teachers the school will hire, how my future resume will look. It's a big test. If the visiting observers find that I break the very strict rules about timing or giving directions (read exactly what is there, do not paraphrase or even explain words the students do not understand), I could be fired. While the debate over teaching to the test is quite hot in educational theory courses, the reality is that I HAVE to teach to the test. Take that as you will. Maybe I'm blowing this out of proportion. Or not.

For those of you who didn't know, I had three wisdom teeth removed two weeks ago (to the day tomorrow) and let me just say that being able to laugh, smile, sing and chew makes all the difference in my life. I had no idea what a humongous effect not being able to talk properly would have upon my mood (and teaching ability), but I feel as if the world is brightened and spring is coming and happiness and lollipops and all other good things in life are coming my way. The kids were extremely respectful, considering I mumbled for a week. Thinking back, I realize that my kids were actually really awesome. They were genuinely concerned and didn't freak out as much as they could have when I told them I was on drugs (not really thinking in that moment). In fact, they were happy to see me after I took a day off to recover even more and I was happy to see them too. Oh, life is wonderful!
I don't really remember the last half of my spring break due to my tooth extraction, but the first weekend was FULL of happiness with my mother in town for the first time. It was impossible to see all the sights, but I feel that St. Louis impressed her, as it did me when I first saw it. St. Louis really is a classy town with a lot to offer, much of it for free. And the food was amazing. Ahhh, food. I love being able to chew. Those of you who have had any wisdom teeth out can empathize, though I have nothing on anyone with a four wisdom tooth tale ;-)
Not so proud teacher moments-
Catching a student skipping school after seven days. The worst part is not that it took me seven days to call home (which is very, very bad); it's that no one else noticed. No one.
Getting extremely angry at a student who I believe is emotionally disturbed and pretty much yelling, "If your Mom doesn't come to parent teacher conferences, I swear, I am going to go to your house to make a home visit!" I found out later that day that this student is homeless and living in a shelter. Wow. Wish I had known that a little bit earlier.
Deciding whether to talk to a student about his serious nose picking problem. I mean this kid digs like a miner in search of gold in the rush of '49. Still don't know if a private talk would traumatize, embarrass or help him...
Great teaching moments-
I have a student who is so delightful he can almost be annoying sometimes because he won't stop talking. During lunch one day (which I have in my room, open to any student who wants to come), he just got out of seat, and though there was no music, he decided to start a dance party. It was so funny I spit my drink all over my face, which made everybody laugh. Imagine a skinny little black kid, shaking his hips like a Brazilian belly dancer as he is walking around the room like a duck and proclaiming loudly for anyone to hear, "I can feel the music! Come on everybody, let's DANCE!" Keep in mind, there was no music playing, but he successfully started an impromptu dance party with about 20 students. I laughed so hard I cried.
Brightening a student's day by making her yell, "I am smart!" over and over after she came crying to me, telling me she was retarded. She hasn't stopped smiling since.
When my students read the story, "A Sound of Thunder" by Ray Bradbury, which is about traveling back in time to hunt dinosaurs and changing history after stepping on a butterfly, I came close to tears because the students in my notorious third block were SO into it. Asking questions, making connections and inferences and conclusions and being genuinely excited about reading. You have no idea how wonderful this is to experience until you have spent seven months trying to get these same students excited about reading in any way. It was a little slice of heaven, let me tell ya.
As it is Holy Week, I thought I might start up a religious discussion for those of you who are up for it. Here's my question: If I do not believe in Adam and Eve, how does original sin work? Here's my opinion: It is impossible that two people began the whole human race and has been proven to be untrue. I believe it is a legend written by people trying to explain the mystery of where we all came from, and think of it as a parable instead of gospel truth. But if Adam and Eve did not exist, and never ate from the Tree of Knowledge, therefore disobeying God's direct instructions, how did original sin originate? I believe that Jesus' sacrifice was to reverse original sin, to forgive us all and prove God's immense love, but why is there original sin in the first place if the bible story of Adam and Eve did not happen? I do agree that humans, because of free will, have the propensity of making evil choices, that we are flawed and need help in order to live good, holy lives, but I would like to know your views on my personal conundrum.
Thanks for reading my beloved friends and family. Thinking of all of you always.