Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thoughts From a Bored Teacher

Between being in our second week of standardized testing and having a student teacher who has taken over about half of the school day, I am bored out of my ever-loving mind.  I’ve been keeping myself busy with some photos.

After a series of break-ins since the beginning of 2012, my school district was forced to research measures to keep the school and the equipment inside safe.  They came to the conclusion that bars on the windows was the way to go.  It was a  bit depressing upon arriving to school yesterday morning and finding my windows barred up and the window in the door completely blocked out.
stuff 062stuff 059

stuff 061

It makes me a feel a little bit like we are in prison, or maybe a zoo.

As I’ve mentioned 5 or 6 hundred times, we are in the midst of testing.  The state tests are done in booklets that, when sent back to the powers that be, are scanned for results.  Our district testing, which mirrors there state, is done in very much the same way.  Except that the tests are done in stapled packets.  Before sending them in to the district, the stapled end has to be cut off so they can go through the scanner. 

stuff 065  
This year’s group of kids are a like short hoarders. 
Just about anything I throw away, they want to dig out of the trash – mostly to play school at home.  While collecting tests yesterday one-by-one to prepare for scanning, the first of the stapled edges was cut off.  In mid-cut, the student watching asked, “Can I have that?”  “Can you have what?” I asked back.  She pointed to the little stapled edge.  I shrugged and let her take it.  After that, the remaining 24 students wanted the stapled edge from their tests.  Every few students, I asked again, “Are you sure you want THIS?”  Each and every student smiled and nodded holding out their hand waiting for the scissors to cut the edge off into their small grasp. 

Every year our school district does an art show.  It’s rather nice.  The art work is beautiful, especially the work done with the help of the art teacher in the upper grades.  As I wandered around campus today trying to find something to do I saw this sight.  
  stuff 064The empty art show box is really the epitome of how important standardized testing is at the school where I teach.  We don’t really do art here.  In fact, we are now being told that social studies, writing, science, and music aren’t that important either.  If the kids are struggling, they are not to have those other areas of academics – they aren’t on the standardized tests.  That philosophy frustrates me to no end.

Open House will be upon us in a couple of weeks.  During the weeks of testing, the kids work on mindless Open House projects to pass the off-time.  They have been putting together a
“Me” mobile to hang from the ceiling.  One of the pages is about what they are most proud of. 
This one was completed by a struggling student.  She is a bright girl; a whiz in math, but has had a hard time with remembering her phonics rules and decoding new words.  For most of the year, she had to do her homework with me.  No one at home could read it or help her with it.  She knew the skills to complete the work, but really struggled to read the directions, so she would come work with me before school a couple mornings a week.  She’s worked REALLY hard this year and decided just before spring break she could do her homework at home, on her own.  Her reading has improved and, even though she’s not at grade level yet, I am so proud of her progress.  So being able to read her work independently is a very  big deal.
stuff 058

Reading her “proud” page brought tears to my eyes.  How great that she sees it as an accomplishment too. 


  1. Girl, I'm just feeling bad for you. Am I wrong or are you totally out of sorts?
    I would hate those bars and blocked out windows. It truly does look like a prison.
    Take care of yourself. Hopefully those kids don't make weapons out of the staples that you handed to them.

    1. @mark - detectives believe that the break ins were not done by students who attended the school but possibly by drug addicts looking for equipment to sell off to make money for drugs. I do know in my head that it needed to be done, but yes it makes me sad.

  2. That made me cry. Her words. I am so happy for the great achievement she has made with homework. She overcame! : )

    I am glad you get to be a teacher.

    I always feel so sad in Philly schools because of the barred windows. How very, very sad.

    1. @becky - I always wonder if there's any self fulfilling prophecy psychology going on at schools with bars. Do the kids, esp the older ones, think "well if they're going to treat us like prisoners we may as well act like them.". I know that's probably just a bleeding heart take. At least we don't have security guards and metal detectors...yet.

  3. The bars are a bit overkill. I get the need but not the heft of them. Could they not paint them a recessive colour.

  4. @vince - luckily they aren't a real dark color. The color of our walls are a beige and so are the bars. They also are on the inside so at least they aren't that noticeable from the outside. I've figured out that if I put the mini blinds over them and open the minis just a bit, they blend in ok. I'm making it work. :)

  5. I was having a think about this. They, the powers that be, could easily have gone with a different look that would have provided equal security and not have cost then a farthing more. I've seen a variety of security for homes that would suit. Those windows are nothing out of the ordinary that they couldn't have gotten a job lot of them from ANY builders merchants. It's not as if we're talking odd shapes here. That window opening is about as standard as they come.

    One thing got me wondering. Why are they set so high in the wall. For myself, if I was asked to design a classroom, I would rotate the lights 90 degrees. You see I would WANT the kids to see out. Who cares if they go wandering off in a daydream.

  6. @Vince - Come on now, daydreaming is NOT on the test. :) I really can't say why "they" decided upon bars in the first place. It was spoken about at a staff meeting about a month ago, and bars were mentioned as a measure they didn't want to take. There was talk of unbreakable windows and mesh embedded windows, the latter being what I thought was the decision. So it was a surprise to arrive to school that morning with the bars.
    As for the window design, again, no clue. Our windows don't even open - between the bars and the blocked out door window it's kind of claustrophobic in there now.

  7. Good news is...testing is over and you are soon on your way to bigger and better things!! The bars would make me claustrophobic and sad.

  8. Good news is...testing is over and you are soon on your way to bigger and better things!! The bars would make me claustrophobic and sad.

  9. @jlo - fingers crossed that you are right. :)

  10. Wasn't school to educate the Mind, Body and Soul? Socrates would be rolling over in his tomb! You need to get your classroom zoo takes over you too!

    We have the standardized b.s. too but we have ART! I sing and dnace with my kids every day...granted it's kindergarten but I will do so in 1st next year too.

    You're too good a teacher to teach filling in bubbles all year long. That empty art bin makes me cry...along with the bars on your windows :(

    Happy 3 Day Weekend!

  11. Thanks Marey! We had a furlough day on Friday, so it has been a happy 4 day weekend. :) I've been feeling the same way, so just now waiting on official word, but that is my plan.