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Saturday, November 20, 2010


The house is quiet and I am enjoying the silence.  I have finished (I hope) my first round of report cards of the year and am basking in the glow.  I have made those parent phone calls, the ones where you have bad news about the report card but you give positive ideas and plans.  Thankfully the parents are seeing the same behaviours and have no illusions as to what their child is doing.  That makes things a little easier. 
Winter is definitely here.  It snowed and blew for a few days in a row and hit -20 something plus wind-chill at one point.  Our luck ran out and Winter is here.  I was talking to my friend in Atlanta this morning, laughing at her reaction to the temperatures.  I think she would die up here.  While we were talking I was remembering my life down there.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  The good was finding her friendship, the lifestyle, the city.  The bad was being poorly paid, the troubled students that I worked with.  The ugly was the school system.  It was awful.  Data driven instruction, teaching for testing, the constant stress and anxiety I felt every day.  We as teachers were expected to have great test scores no matter what.  I saw teachers fired, put on personal development plans, forced professional development, always the threats hanging over our heads to have our children perform.  Not learn, perform.  I remember when I got there and Math was the big deal.  Reading too, but all other subjects were overlooked as being unnecessary.  I had to have 180 minutes of uninterrupted reading instruction in my  schedule.  No wonder the students (and some of the teachers) had no concept of the world or Scientific Method.  It was crazy.  Teachers helped their students cheat on the tests.... now how does that help anyone?  I've been reading about the schools in the States and the turmoil that they are in right now because of the President's promises to the public.  Teachers are committing suicide for heaven's sake!  I do agree that teachers need to be accountable in some way for the jobs that we do.  Too many teachers hide behind unions and do a terrible job in the classroom, but there are those that are teaching for the right reasons.  We need to be recognized as professionals and not be under constant scrutiny and criticism because of test scores.  Teachers need to be able to teach in a creative way, to be able to touch all kinds of learners.  When I left Georgia scripted lessons were becoming popular in my district.  My question always was 'What if the students don't respond in the way that's in the script, but their answers are still right?'  No one ever wanted to answer that one.  They needed to say what was on the sheet and it was my job to make sure they did.  Period.  Coming back to BC to continue my career was a relief, but I have to say that I'm getting a little nervous about all the data my district likes to collect.  They always preface it with 'we're looking at the students not the teachers' but it's not a big jump.  Do I think we should be testing students?  Yes.  Do I think that should be the only information that we base accountability on?  No way.  Do I have the answers?  Nope, but I'm willing to look at all the alternatives.  I lived in a 'testing system'  I lived with No Child Left Behind.  It was the teachers that got left behind.

Monday, November 8, 2010

bandaids, boogers and tears

For this week and last, this is the theme of my classroom.  I have remembered that a band-aid (especially Scooby Doo ones) can cure all kinds of things.  Now that my class knows that I have them in my desk, I have at least one little tadpole a day coming to me with new and old cuts looking for a Scooby cure.  It's funny because for the fresh accidents I can make the tears dry up almost instantaneously when I mention a Scooby band-aid. 
Boogers are a problem in my class, not only do I find them where they shouldn't be I catch the tadpoles mining for them constantly.  We've had the talks about what boogers are and why they shouldn't eat them etc., but for a few of my kids, they have a very bad habit.  What's funny is when I catch them with a stringer on the end of their finger and they say "no I wasn't".  I have a couple that are personally responsible for the empty hand sanitizer bottles that I recycle. I do try to be indiscreet about it most of the time, but when it's the 20th time in the half hour, my patience wanes a little.
Another side effect of Halloween besides the sugar that they are constantly consuming, is the late nights and the changes in schedules that some of them keep having at home.  This is usually brought to my attention when they start to cry and pout.  Both things I can't stand.  When I investigate, it usually uncovers a late night, a change of custody or something else that shatters the routine of the little one.  I have a couple of kids that have been squirrely since the 29th and I'm hoping that it all calms down soon.  That or I will go bonkers pretty shortly.
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