Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thirteen Things about Why I'm Glad Summer School Is Finally Over!!!

1. Summer vacation officially starts for me today!
2. I started packing for the beach this afternoon.
3. My summer school paycheck hits the bank at midnight.
4. I can sleep as long as I want to until August.
5. I can think about next year if I want to.
6. I can stay up late and watch all the stupid TV I want to.
7. I can start my summer reading now.
8. I can nap whenever I want to now.
9. I can go to the pool in the morning if I want to.
10. I can stay on my computer for however long I want.
11. I don't have to make that drive to the summer school any more.
12. I can let LawyerBoy leave in the mornings while I am still in bed.
13. I can wear my pajamas all day long if I want.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

No More Teachers, No More Books, Part Two

Praise the Lord in Heaven. Summer school ends tomorrow. I tested six kids today in reading. By reading the reading test outloud to them. All of it. The passages. The questions. The answer choices. I think I began to hyperventilate at some point. I have a migraine THIS BIG right now. It won't go away. I am going to bed and dream happy dreams.

What am I supposed to do tomorrow?

I have cleaned up my room and turned in all my stuff. The math kids test tomorrow. I am a reading teacher. I believe I will bring a book. It's all good.

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You Go, Girl!!

I am one of Nancy Grace's many, many sorority sisters. Back in the day, she was as fiesty as she is now. She transferred in to Mercer many, many moons ago. She came because her family was there and her brother was already working in the Admissions Office. And you all already know the story - her boyfriend had been murdered. She needed a fresh start. And we gave that to her.

But you know what? She didn't just wallow around in her grief. She didn't carry it around. You knew it about her but that was about it. She was another girl. And when another one of our sorority sisters lost a boyfriend to a pretty rotten tragedy, she was all there with the support. Because she was the one who knew what it was to lose a boyfriend forever.

Nancy dated David and they were pretty cute together. We always wondered what kept them from getting together permanently. I mean, after all, isn't that the only reason the rest of us went to college?

So, yesterday, when their news blew wide open, I was happy for them. After all, yesterday was my 25th wedding anniversary. LawyerBoy and I reminisced about the past 25 and planned for the next. I am glad that Nancy and David will be able to do the same thing. They've always been there for each other. Just like me and LawyerBoy. It was college all over again.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Blogging, Journaling and the Last Gasps of Summer School

Just wondering... do all you bloggerss keep regular journals, too? I have in the past, but now that I spend all my time surfing the computer and teaching summer school, I find that I haven't journaled in a very long time. And what is really funny is that there have been a few times when I wanted to journal, but I haven't wanted to mess up my journal. OCD? Perhaps..

Oh yeah. The test is Wednesday and I have been chosen to be one of the teachers to read the test out loud. Correct-o. I am reading a reading test out loud to people who need to be able to read it to pass it. Am I the only one finding the irony in this situation? We have made accommodations for students who can't read and one of those accommodations is to read the test to them. Hello. I'm from the government and I'm here to help.

My one major question is who did I piss off? After all, I have to read directions, passages, questions and answer choices to these kids. That shouldn't take long or be too boring. One of them gets to write in the test booklet and I have to transfer his answers into the answer document after the test is over. WTH? My wedding anniversary is Tuesday. I wanted to go dancing, drink heavily and come into a nice quiet testing room on Wednesday. The last thing I want to hear is my own monotonous voice reading those tedious selections outloud. Just the nice sound of number two pencils making those little circles.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Mothering Daughters

I am hotly aggravated right now. I hoped and prayed for healthy daughters. Me being a girl, I figured I'd mother girls better than I'd mother boys. I don't know why - I just saw myself mothering girls instead of boys. Now, in my many years of teaching and mothering, I have realized that there are some similarities and differences between boys and girls, but if I had been blessed with a boy, I am sure I would have done an absolutely wonderful job mothering him.

I have been following the news and I am shocked and appalled that yet another young woman has been found murdered with her unborn child. And the accused murderer is the father of her two children. Now, what is a mother supposed to do? I have tried to raise these girls right. At least right in our family. You know, we'd prefer it if you'd go to college, find a great career, backpack across Europe, find a great man and have lovely children. Do some good in the world. Make a difference. Try not to get involved with a man who is already married and has two or three other children by two or three different women. Oh yeah, and has a history of domestic violence. I don't care how happy he makes you. I got out of a relationship like that when I was in college. Getting slapped around doesn't make for a good time. I hope he rots.

However, how am I supposed to let them go? I didn't realize how hard this was going to be. I guess I will have to go to college with PrepGirl. LawyerBoy's brother had a friend at Harvard whose mother came with her. Kind of awkward - they left Dad and Little Sister here in the Deep South while Mother and Elder Sister went on to Harvard. She stayed for four years. Mom just hung around to make sure everything was all right. Back then, it seemed a little stifling for Elder Sister. Right now, I am thinking about what a great idea that was.

How on earth did my parents let me go 800 miles away from home? Were they on crack?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tales from Summer School

Five more days until the big test... and my oldest student has been transferred. He tried to sleep through class yesterday. I think that's what did him in yesterday.

I thought that my classroom was the crazy one; however, I have been listening to my fellow summer school teachers and I realize that I am one of the lucky ones. I am down to three students. There are others who have as many as 14 students. Many of those kids are not on any of their meds for whatever ails them. Phew.

My students (the rest of them) are as different as they are every year. My girl failed the test because she said she fell asleep and when she woke up, she realized she had run out of time and just started marking answers. I don't doubt that. She is smart and she could be so much more than she thinks she is. Where was her testing teacher?

One of the boys has told me that just last year, he swam across the Rio Grande to get here. I didn't know whether to be proud of him for realizing that this is America, land of the free, home of the brave, or outraged because here I am, trying to educate an undocumented, illegal alien who has failed the all-important test and his failure reflects poorly on my adequate yearly progress. Whatever. He is trying. Sort of. I don't know if he even understands the importance of all this yet. He barely understands me. Which brings me to my next question: why are we TESTING someone in English when he doesn't even understand the language? Some of the data that I have read states that English language learners don't have the ability to truly comprehend English for at least seven years after they have come to this country. Why is this county and this country all hot and bothered to test these kids one year after they have even arrived? He can't pronounce the words yet. He doesn't even know what they mean.

So, here we are, trying to cram down, in fifteen days, what some of these kids haven't managed to learn in two tries at fifth grade. After all, some of the teachers have asked if we aren't going to get these kids student parking. When you get to fail as many times as these kids do, you're going to need a parking place and a prom. We are doing them a huge disservice. I just don't know how to undo it.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Let Me Change That...

Let me change that to four or five minutes. It seems that Charter is having some problems of its own - really? Well, I'm having a problem paying you for a service you aren't providing.

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Quick, While the Connection Lasts

Charter Communications is the worst cable company in the United States. It has a monopoly in my area and is never able to have the cable on continuously for more than four or five hours. "Too many people trying to access the cable," is their favorite defense. Get with it, morons. Lawyerboy is about to file a class action suit against your sorry butts. Yea, Lawyerboy!!


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Summer School v. Vacation Bible School

Summer school - next year, when the applications get passed out, someone stop me. The floating ESOL teacher is helping me do guided reading and I made sure she had my older student in her group. She is precious, and she is as exasperated with him as I am. He danced for her today. Oh yeah, and used the word "blowjob" for his new little friends. Apparently, that was the word of the day. Yea, summer school!!! Ten days until the test. I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!! The question of the week is, however, is it better than having to do Vacation Bible School? I have done VBS my whole life and to be honest, I am glad to have a reason not to be there. How bad is that? I hate being guilted into doing Bible School, but honestly, after you've taught all year long, don't you think you could find something else for me to do besides teach? Anything else. Maybe next year, I could be the song leader.

A word of explanation.

Every year, Bible School begins with all the children gathering together for a musical beginning where a group of the youth and an "adult" lead them in the songs for the week. You know, the themed songs and the old songs that all the kids love to sing. This goes on for about 20 minutes before all the children go to their various activities. For the past several years, one girl has lead the music - she is the daughter of a member, flunked out of Vanderbilt, kicked a drug habit, put on about 75 pounds, smokes like a chimney and dresses like a hooker. Just the role model you are looking for for your teenaged daughter. Last year, the children's minister had to tell her to put on a shirt over the questionable top she was wearing in front of all the three year olds and their teachers and parents. You know the top: spaghetti straps, pajama material, braless. Same top I've seen her wear to church. In the sanctuary.

What the hell?

So, maybe next year, I can stand up in front of the children with my youth posse, and lead them in the songs of Bible School. Twenty minutes and I'm outta there. No one would question my outfits, that's for sure. And that gig would have to be better than the one I've got right now.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Big State Testing Results and the School Superintendent

Thursday, Kathy Cox came out all happy because the state test results came back and made her look good.

If anyone looked really hard at the results, they would have to realize that just passing the test doesn't make anyone really look good. It means that we got the kids ready to take a test. By passing the test with an 800, you have met standards. Meeting standards here means you have mastered about 40% of the material. FORTY PERCENT OF THE MATERIAL. You are not a rocket scientist; you have barely learned what you need to learn for the whatever grade you are in. Spend the summer watching TV and what not and you won't even have a grasp on that 40%.

The very same day, there was an article in the very same paper about a group of teachers who were studying about geography because our students don't have the first idea where anything is located in the world.

Today, the paper has an editorial about how our students don't know anything about history.

That is because we have stopped teaching what is important for what makes us look good. We don't teach them how to think or why it is important to know where things are or why the rules of spelling are important or why this novel is fun to read, just because; the state and federal government wants us to turn these children into robots who can read and calculate just enough to get by. The standards aren't good for teachers and they aren't good for students. Aren't we doing a disservice to the children by trying to make them all fit in the same mold? And aren't we doing ourselves a disservice by not teaching them that education can be fun and beautiful and challenging, all at the same time? Who is going to want to teach if it isn't fun anymore?

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Vacation Blues

The first week of summer school is blissfully over; I quietly countdown the minutes as they tick away every day. I know that isn't a good thing to do as a teacher, but I'm not your ordinary teacher, I am a summer school teacher.

One huge concern in my room is the presence of a 13 1/2 year old 5th grader who is trying to pass the Super Big State Test. He is living in a homeless shelter. WTH has been my battle cry all week. Is anybody listening? Not until Thursday did someone really hear me and start to look into what has happened to this young man. Because really, if you are almost 14, you aren't a child anymore.

Another big concern in my room: several of the kids told me that they had just fallen asleep during the test. Again, WTH? I was told that I had to circulate, make sure everyone was on task, make sure everyone was on the right section. How do you let children fail by sleeping through the test? Uncaring and unprofessional. That's all. A few of my kids are smart; too smart to be where I am teaching.

BrownBear returned from a week at camp and slept for 14 hours upon her return. No, that isn't a typo - 14 hours. She appeared to PrepGirl and I yesterday at 2:00 PM. She said she wouldn't have gotten up at all if she hadn't had to go to the bathroom. I had been home from school for an hour and a half and I expected to be greated with shouts and cheers and "Let's go to the pool!" Instead, I got to find out what the evil Stefano was up to in the town of Salem.

So, five days of summer school down, 12 more teaching days until the big test.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Summer School Starts When?

Summer school starts tomorrow. I am in a state. I'm not this undone before real school, so I don't know why I am so wigged out about tomorrow. It seemed like such a good idea - cash and all - I won't be missing much because PrepGirl's got a huge babysitting gig and BrownBear has already gone to camp. I think it must be the newness of the situation: new school, new kids, and I don't know any of the other teachers. I hate that, being the new kid on the block. Plus, I'll be teaching inside the building and I usually teach in the trailer. I'm just nervous. I'll be better after tomorrow.

Pat Conroy has written a cookbook. I know. I just spent a hour on the floor of my local Barnes and Noble reading it. He can weave together a story about the South like no other. He makes me proud to be a Southerner. Takes the bizarre and makes it into a good read. Some of his recipes look pretty good, but the stories that go with them are what kept me reading.

And these obese people on TV are freaking me out. I need to go to bed. Now. Before I snack.

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