4.17.2013

Teaching and testing don't mix!

I had an epiphany today.  After 15 years, it hit me!  We do our students such a disservice when we teach them and then test them.  This came to be after I did a DRA on one of my kiddos who has made such huge progress, but has some communication delays.

We are told over and over and over again to "differentiate, differentiate, differentiate!"  We do 174,000 things to help our kids learn, pull out many tricks to help them "get it", and worry and fret when they struggle.  We try to figure out what they need and do our best to give it to them.  But then we give them a test that fits into a tiny box and are surprised when they don't meet that random standard that someone set up.  We do whatever we can to teach them, but when we test them, it's one size fits a few.  And it's CRAP!  No wonder tests show that not all kids get it.  It's a wonder that kids show they get it at all.

My little guy passed a DRA 12.  Grade level for now would be a 14, with a 16 by next month.  He is a freaky reader in that he can look at a word and know it without sounding it out.  He doesn't always know what the word means, as he is an EL, but he has a pretty good idea.  He understands the gist of the story, but he gets stuck when he has to retell the story on his own.  If I ask him questions about the story, he can answer the questions correctly and elaborate a little, but he can't do it on his own.  He is being tested for special education, but I don't know if he will qualify.  As my friend said, I have worked too hard with him and helped him learn!  A colleague was astonished that I would pass him on the DRA since he couldn't be a robot and retell the story verbatim.  I'm sorry, there is more to life than being a robot child, like being able to think.  He's a smart little boy who is beating all the odds and learning and doing well in school.

Sadly, next year in second grade, when they have to take the state test, he may not do well, which will reflect poorly on his teacher and his learning.  We help students be successful in their learning, but it doesn't always reflect in their assessing.  I'm not against assessments, but I'm against it being the end all, be all for how well a student does or appears to have done in their learning.  Sometimes students are a whole lot smarter than a test shows, especially if they are given a chance to show what they know, rather than pick the right bubble or retell a story exactly as a publisher says.

I am a teacher after all, not a tester!

4.14.2013

Middle of the month already?

Ever just sit back and wonder where the time has gone?  I seem to do that a lot lately.  Luckily, I realize how quickly the year is coming to an end.  Sadly, I realize how quickly the year is coming to an end.  I am torn with that.  I am ready for this crazy, drama filled year to be over, but I am not quite ready for some of my kids to be gone.  I'm not quite ready for my daughter to be done with first grade, either.  I'm not loving the fact these last almost 7 years have gone by so quickly! 

After Friday, we are now at less than 8 weeks of school left in the year.  To be more specific, there are 37 days left.  37!  Where did the year go?  It seems to be going by faster as the weeks come to an end.  My kids aren't all where they need to be to be fully ready for 2nd grade and I need the time to work with them!  But, I also realize that they are still fairly strong in what they know and they just need a little time and extra help to "get it".  At the same time, I am ready for this class to move on.  I have some interesting students who make it a little more than challenging to get things done.  I have some kids who lack motivation, some who know more than I do (or so they think), and some who are too busy worrying about everyone else to pay much attention to their own learning.  Then I have the kids who work hard everyday, participate everyday, do their homework everyday and try to learn something new each and every day they are there.  Then I realize that I still have kids who want to learn and I teach and hope the others get a little something everyday that will make them enjoy school, try harder or want to pay attention.  I hope it helps. 

I do have one student that worked me over good on Friday.  Not a commom occurance in a regular education class, but it happened.  This student has decided that they don't want to come to school anymore.  They are very low and will be repeating first grade.  Many days have been missed because the parents give in and think it's easier to let them stay at home rather than fight.  In fact, the cousin comes to school everyday late since they are in carpool together.  So on Friday, the parent brought the child to school after telling the child that they will have a new teacher that day.  I guess that is what the parent says to make the child come to school.  It's not true, but the child thinks they will be in a different class, so they come.  Well on Friday, the child decided not to let go of Mom.  They had a death grip on the mom's purse.  The acting admin and I were trying to calm the child down and were trying to impress upon mom that she needed to leave and the child would be fine.  Mom decided not go and we ended up trying to restrain the child while mom was talking to someone else.  Somehow, I ended up holding the child (did I mention this poor little child weighs over 100 pounds in first grade) and the decided to jump up and back with both feet off the ground.  Talk about a back ache!  After that, the child flopped on the ground (after we very carewfully set them down so they didn't get hurt) and proceeded to scream for an hour!  I was exhausted, in pain and ready to cry myself.  They finally made it into class after 80 minutes and then were fine the rest of the day.  They were disappointed when they didn't get their hand stamp at the end of the day, but I'm sorry.  I won't reward bad behavior.  We are supposed to have a meeting with the parents, but they keep canceling on us.  I did learn several things from this - you can't make children come to school; - I won't get into this again; - some children are able to manipulate their parents too easily and get away with too much; - children understand good behavior and bad behavior; - I need to know when to say when. 

I have tried working with this child all year and all I get from them to their parents is that I spend my day picking on them.  I work with them one on one quite often to help them, but it comes across as picking on.  I won't spend that much time with this child now, as it makes me sad to think that I have given them so much time and effort and the parents believe I just sit there and pick on them. 

Looking back on this year, I have been a real Debbie Downer.  But that is how the year has gone.  It goes from bad to worse and it's just been a constant circle of crap.  I'm ready to go elsewhere, but there is no where to go.  There are no openings anywhere.  I love my job, I really do.  I love being able to teach my kids and watch them when they get it.  I love having fun with my kids and acting silly.  I love being able to tell them that we are going to "break the rules" and have fun in class when we really should be doing strong academic work.  I love seeing them smile.  I love seeing them learn.  But I'm tired of crap.  And it's been getting worse all year.  We have a very weak administration, and right now, the students and parents are running the school.  And it has put everyone in a bad mood.  I come home and night and feel defeated.  I feel like I have worked hard and it doesn't show.  I feel like I am running ragged and it's all for nothing.  No matter how hard we work, we should have worked harder, done more.  I don't know what more to do.  I have tried telling myself to ignore it and focus on my own kids and class and that has helped, until the crap gets deeper and causes more issues in an already fragile situation.  So for now, I am going to keep focused on what I need to do for the rest of the year and then enjoy the summer to recharge.  I have no idea what's ahead for us next year, but I hope it can't be any crazier/crappier/more dysfunctional that it already it this year. 

If you are looking for rainbows and sunshine, this ain't the place.  If you want honest, here it is.  It isn't pretty, but this is how it is.  And now, I will watch my followers drop off like flies as they go look for the happy-nothing-is-ever-wrong-in-my-life blogs!  Happy Sunday!

4.07.2013

Not enough time in the day!

Every day I think I should blog.  And then I go to bed and realize it's one of the many things I didn't get done.  Oh well!  I don't get paid for blogging, so it's OK.  Otherwise,  I wouldn't be able to live! 

Since I've last blogged, I have had the week before Spring Break, Spring Break and then have been back to work and took a day off to go out of town.  Crazy how fast the time has gone.  I wish it was going faster though.  I am done with this year.  I really like my class, but the drama we had this year made the year not so fun.  And the drama continues, just on a smaller scale or in other areas of the staff.  I am ready for June 5th to be here so I can give my kids a final hug and be done!  Ready to start thinking about next year.  Really.  I am. 

I had hoped to be productive over Spring Break, but it didn't happen.  I cleaned a bit inside and outside.  I helped hubby at his office, I showed a friend the wonders of Pinterest and I fought mad crowds at Legoland.  Then I ended the week with a date day with the hubby and Easter at my parents.  Then it was back to work with the crazy, sugar-filled kids the day after Easter.  Crazy!  But, it's one week closer to the end. 

During Spring Break, I discovered Mad Men.  I know.  I must have been living under a rock.  But there is a big, long story about how I discovered the show.  One that makes me blush and turn bright red.  And my hubby likes to tell anyone who will listen why I wanted to watch it.  If you haven't seen it, google it!  I started watching it on Netflix and am now in Season 2.  Of course Season 6 started today, but I will just be behind.  No point in getting ahead of myself! 
 
 
Last week, my daughter went with my parents camping for the week.  It's more like glamping, as they have a huge trailer that is for R&R rather than playing and getting dirty.  My trailer can fit into theirs and there would still be room to live!  But I like my little home away from home.  In fact, hubby and I took off Friday and went to the Kern River to meet up with my family, spend the weekend there and bring my baby home!  It was a nice, relaxing time and we will be able to go any weekend we want til October.  We decided to leave our trailer there for the summer.  Ahhhh, is it summer yet? 
 
 
We got home late this afternoon and I whipped up some centers for my kiddos this week.  I have a few that dive right in and want to complete them all since that is what I would like them to do.  I swear I would teach 50 kids if they were all perfect like a couple I have.  One reminded me 10 times on Thursday that I needed to make the centers for Monday, since he did them all. So, I busted some out!  They are an animal theme to go with our science unit.  You can check them out here at my TPT store.  Easy!  You can also click on the adorable girrafe to take you to the page.  Check them out...lots of cute stuff! 
 
 
Well, it's officially back to school time.  Time to go argue with my baby to get her to go to bed.  Back to reality for her.  She has 7 more weeks til the end of the year.  Me?  9.  Not fair!  But, we will all be in Alaska in 10 short weeks!  That's what I have to look forward to!  Happy Sunday!