Today was our last day of CSAP testing.  All together now…”WOO HOO!!!”  Yes, I am so glad that it is over.  I thought my 8th grade boys were going to internally combust if they had to sit for one more minute after our final 65 minute testing session.  I have never seen such fidgeting and inability to sit still.  They aren’t allowed to talk, or read, or even get up until the session is over, and for these kiddos, 65 minutes of sitting in one spot without talking is like torture.  They were creative though.  One student managed to fashion his hair into a replica of lady liberty by twisting small portions of hair into little peaks all the way around his hair-line. 

 Another managed to tie his two #2, graphite, wooden pencils into his hair so that they hung down like pendulums and then proceeded to swing them back and force eerily bringing to mind Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum”. 

 I felt like I was in an alternate dimension of “The Breakfast Club”.  Another student took off his glasses and used the kleenex from the tissue box to make a glasses holder and sat his glasses on them and then just stared at the freakish white face for 30 minutes.  Another student decided that he was going to try to balance his #2 pencil between his top lip and nose.  This he did for at least 15 minutes.  At one point I was quite worried.  (This is not my student, but it gives you an idea of what I had to look at for 15 minutes, without cracking a smile…CSAP is a ‘very serious” thing).

 They tried to tap their fingers on their desks (not allowed, disruptive), roll their pencils up and down their test books like a skateboard ramp (had to take the pencils away), and my favorite…one student decided to try to juggle kleenex until I was able to catch them mid-air and take away the tissue box.  To be honest, during the last fifteen minutes of the 12th and final test, I didn’t know if I was going to make it.  Then…finally…”Put your pencils down, this session of the test is now over.”  Really?  By then all of the students were done and half were almost asleep from boredom, the other, as I told you, were about ready to combust.  But it is now over “sigh of relief”.  I’m so glad to know that Colorado was approved for some of the billions of dollars that states fought over in the “Race to the Top” scheme, where states had to come up with a “plan” to improve student achievement and hold teacher’s accountable through test scores.  Great.  I’m sure Johnny (names changed to protect the guilty) thought about that last night when he was up until “3 am texting his high school girlfriend” and could barely stay awake to finish Science session 2 and 3 – good thing I don’t teach Science (sorry Alyce).  We have a WINNER!!! 

BUT…tomorrow we get to go and see this “as a reward for all their hard work on CSAP”.  Right.  I worked hard though, so I’m going to enjoy it. 

Alice in Wonderland 2010 poster


Ick. Icky. Ick – Conferences

Hi all,

Gosh it has been quite the week here for me.  Lots of things going on.  We had a lovely snow storm on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.  I was sure that on Monday morning I would get a call for a delayed day or even a cancellation, but no such luck.  None of the districts here closed or even delayed.  Thus all of my plans to get things done were squashed.  This week was also parent/teacher conferences.  Ick.  Icky.  Ick.  I’m not a fan of conferences.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love the conferences where I can tell parents that they are fabulous, their kid is fabulous, and everything in the world is fabulous…but…I work with at-risk, alternative middle school students.  So just take your average pre-teen/teen with their hormones and attitude and deluded visions of reality and then multiply that by anger management issues, psychological issues, an extreme averrance to accepting responsibility for their actions…I could go on and on.  Let’s just say that when you have to talk to a parent about how his/her son/daughter is failing because (insert myriad reasons).  They don’t like it at all. 

Now, it’s not like this is a surprise to these parents.  They can check grades any time day or night.  They can go online and look up the homework assignments their student has each night.  They can call and/or email a teacher at anytime and we are happy to get back to them.  They get biweekly reports on their student’s grades…and yet…they are utterly baffled and “shocked” that Timmy has a 45% because he has failed every vocabulary quiz for the past five weeks and has  not turned in one homework assignment, even after being hailed down in the hallway every morning to come to study hall to make up the missing work.  “Whatever” the kids say. 

So, obviously, it is the teacher’s fault.  Some parents cry and sob that they are at their wits end and don’t know what to do.  Some parents threaten to give up on their child completely and send them to a military school (and no threats don’t work with these kids).  Some parents yell at the teacher.  “You should have notified me!”  (um really?  you can check his/her grade anytime you want.  all you have to do is get on the computer and look it up, or call the teacher; we send home biweekly grade reports.) “How am I supposed to know that he/she is missing so much work?!” (refer to previous response).  “You should be letting us know what their assignments are.  We are busy people and we don’t have time to look up the homework calendar every night” (You don’t have time??? It takes five minutes.  Now I know why your child is sooooo lazy).  It goes on and on and on.  Every once in a while we get a parent who is on our side.  You can tell that the child is gonna get it when he/she gets home and the missing work will be in my basket first thing the next morning, but folks, let me tell you.  In my last 8 years of teaching (only two of those were at an alternative school), those parents have become few and far between.  It is sad.  That is all I can say.  I feel bad for some of these kids.  It becomes quite obvious why they don’t accept any responsibility for themselves.  (I actually had a student tell me today.  “You are my favorite teacher.  I think that I’m actually going to try on CSAP (Colorado standardized test) this year.  At my old school last year I just colored in random answers and drew pictures on my test.”)  All I can say is that I do hope she “tries”. 

So, friends, I have not crafted this week.  I am exhausted.  I did get the closet organizer installed and the guest room painted (except for the trim).  I am looking forward to the upcoming three day weekend.  I have a lot more projects to do.  I think that tonight I will sit in my comfy bed with a hot cup of tea and cross-stitch away as I watch my favorite night of TV.  (Vampire Diaries at 7:00 (yes my students got me hooked on this book series and now I can’t miss and episode of the show) then my ALL TIME FAVORITE TELEVISION SHOW EVER (after Sex and the City) PROJECT RUNWAY.  I am really enjoying this season’s designers.  Can’t wait to see what they come up with tonight. 

Hugs, E