Thursday, April 18, 2013

Blog Break!

I'm in the middle of my busiest weeks at work.  There are days that I don't even get a breath until long after the final bell.  We have field trips and track meets and end-of-the-year meetings and I'm just meeting myself coming and going.  So, until May, unless I really have something to say and some time to say it, I'm taking a blog break.

I love all of you super cool party people and I hope you will all come back here when there's something to read again!  (And in the meantime, I promise that I will try to sneak in some time to at least stay up on what is happening on your blog!)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 4/10

1. Share one fun thing you did last week, while the Hodgepodge was on 'spring break'.

My life has been pretty routine.  I did have a pretty good time at dinner with my parents on Saturday night.

2.  April 10th is National Sibling you have siblings, and if so are you close? Share a favorite story featuring one or all of your siblings. If you don't have siblings, did you ever wish you did?

I have two siblings--one younger brother, one younger sister.  We are closer now personally, because we are all closer now geographically. We're spread out in age, so I think that's kind of normal.  I don't really have one memory or story in particular, but my favorite times are when we are all together trading barbs or watching Jeopardy.  My family values wit and trivial knowledge equally.

3. Is it important to you to 'buy American'? Why or why not? How much of an effort do you make to 'buy American'? If you're not American, insert your own country in the blank. 

I do think that it's important, and I should probably do it more than I should.  It's not that I don't want to buy US made products.  Most of the time, I just don't have the time to worry about if something was made here or not or think to look.  I should probably work on that.  

4. Besides The Bible, what book has impacted your spirituality in some way?

I feel like anything Beth Moore writes just blows my mind.  I feel the same way about Angie Smith.  They are women who have such a way with words and imagery, breaking biblical principles down in the most meaningful ways.   While I haven't read her books, I feel the same way about Jen Hatmaker's blog.  (Jamie, The Very Worst Missionary, too.)

5. April showers bring May flowers or so the saying goes.  Do you find rainy days calming or depressing?  When were you last caught in a rainstorm? What's blooming in your neck of the woods today?

I love rainy days, as long as I am not in the basement with a tornado warning.  I should also say that I like an occasional rainy day, too many in a row depresses me.  Flowering trees are blooming right now.  A few of the flowers are starting to come up, but I think it will still be a week or two before they are really blooming.

6. What's your favorite yellow food?

Hmmm....I really had to think about this one.  Probably corn on the cob.

7. April is National Poetry Month...what's a poem that holds special meaning for you, and why is it special?

I'm a poetry person.  My favorite poem is ee cummings "i carry your heart (i carry it in".  It doesn't really have a special personal meaning.  It's just one in which the imagery and words really get to me.  

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Track season begins on Tuesday!  It's always my favorite time of the year.  Speaking of my favorite things, we are officially one month from summer vacation too.  (On a different note altogether, did you guys see the "32" video?  Still laughing over that one!)

Saturday, April 6, 2013


I already posted this on Facebook and Twitter, but in cased you missed it, here it is again.  I actually like Taylor Swift's "22" but this might be the most (sadly) accurate portrayal of 32 I've seen in a while.  (I say this as someone who was exhausted when she got home at 11:00 last night.  So sad.)  Anyway, it's great for a laugh!  (I've already watched it entirely too many times!)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Rant-Free Update

So, about yesterday...I kind of got my rant on, didn't I?  I feel much better now, though.  How about I catch you up on a few other recent events in my life?

  • The musical was, by all counts, a great success.  We had large audiences both nights, did an extra show for the middle school and elementary and survived them all with great flair and a lot of help!  I'm so thankful for a community that pitches in when it really counts and I'm already looking forward to next year.  (Did you know they make junior versions of Guys and Dolls and Thoroughly Modern Millie?  Yeah, neither did I.)
  • Easter break (which was only five short days for me) was pretty good, despite the gloomy weather and a hovering foul mood.  Am I the only one who has days where you just can't get in the mood for life?  I'm blaming a several lack of sun, and am feeling better now that it's sunny and a little warmer out!
  • I did get to spend most of two days with my niece, Miss M.  She's just the cutest, smartest, best thing ever!  And she's just started saying my name when she sees me, which is pretty fun, too.  It seems like she says or does something new every single day recently.
  • It's only 32 days until summer vacation!  As it always is at the end of the year, that means it's time to cram a whole lot of things into seven weeks, but I'll take it!  
  • My second job finally feels enjoyable.  I think that getting the assistant has pretty much been the best thing ever!  I was there late last night and I didn't even mind.  (And I don't get a panic attack nor am I filled with dread when I think of going to the second job now either, which is pleasant.)
  • Track season is upon us.  I have a new co-coach and a bunch of fresh smiling faces.  And even if we don't win a lot, we are going to have fun!  (And that's what really counts, even if I am super competitive and really, really like winning...right?)
Okay, so the question is, what's new with you?  Drop me a line or two in the comments.  I love to hear from you!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Teaching, Testing, and The Moral High Ground

By now, most of you have probably heard something about the Atlanta teachers who changed students' standardized test scores.  Just this morning I heard the story on the news comparing the implicated teachers to mobsters.  And I can't begin to tell you how wrong I think that comparison is.  

Before everyone starts freaking out, I believe that their actions were wrong.  However, I believe in the era of high-stakes testing, these teachers weren't necessarily the villains, but desperate people trying to keep their jobs. They will be made examples of, to keep the rest of us in line, to stop other cheaters in their tracks.  Because if you think Atlanta was the only place this kind of thing has happened or will happen, you are, unfortunately, wrong.  When you connect students' score to teachers' employment, even the best teachers find themselves wondering if they have what it takes to keep this job, or even worse, if they even want to keep this job.  

Most people who aren't in education, and many who are, don't get how unfair it is to judge a teacher by their students' test scores.  In my state, all students are tested not at their determined academic level, but at their grade level.  This means that a student with an identified learning disability who reads or completes math at a third or even fifth grade level is still tested with eighth grade materials, and expected to meet or exceed at that level.  And their scores count in to the total scores for the grade level, even when we know they are unable to complete that level of work.  The truth of the matter is not every student is college-bound.  I know that's not a popular opinion, but I believe it's true and to pretend otherwise does a disservice to students.  Not being college-bound isn't a put-down, either.  I have several former students who did not attend college, or who went only to a community college to obtain a certificate, who now make almost twice as much money as I do.  These students might not achieve on a standardized test, but score high when it really counts--in life.  

Additionally, we only control the students habits from 8:00 to 3:00.  To pretend that all students go home to loving families with a deep commitment to education is at best foolish.   I can control what happens in my classroom (mostly).  I can even send home food with the hungry ones, or give clothes to the ones who need them.  I can love them and give them attention, but it may not fix everything for them.  When you are wondering where you are going to sleep at night, achieving on a standardized test isn't really where your head is.  Even in homes where everything is fine, education isn't always the biggest concern.  But parents aren't the ones losing their jobs when the tests don't come in at the levels we expect.  And that's not even addressing students who chose not to perform well because they are over-tested, bored, or unfortunately, even mean-spirited.  If students know failure to achieve could cost a teacher their job, what's to stop them from throwing the test?  I'm not saying that could or has happened, but I think we need to consider the possibilities here.

I can say that I wouldn't change a student's score, but I certainly get how it could happen.  To be scared for your job is the absolute worst feeling in the world.  And to know you could lose your job, even when you've tried your hardest and given your best is unthinkable.  But, it happens.  And unfortunately, until high-stakes testing stops, it will continue to happen.  If I were 18 again, and knew what I now know about education, there's no way I would choose it as my major.  That's not to say I don't love my job, because I do, but every day it gets harder and harder to deal with the part of teaching that has nothing to do with educating students.  And I think if the rest of the world really understood that, they might have a little mercy on those teachers in Atlanta, and teachers everywhere else too.