However, with a big middle finger extended toward the current decisions made by our government, I think I need to accept defeat yet again in 2010. I guess I made it until March, which is something. Yesterday, I even tried to remain positive about this whole national standards thing...to find some good in it. And while there may be some good hidden in there, I have a bad feeling (enter my failure to stay positive) that this is headed toward overwhelming displays of testing! Punishment! Standardization of everything...and I mean EVERYTHING! (Imagine receiving and memo with an accompanying checklist detailing studies which have found that teachers are most successful if they only allow one child to go to the bathroom every hour. Preferably a male child...and now you suddenly have a rubric for the bathroom routine and you're going to be held accountable Gosh Darn It! You laugh, because it is ridiculous and also because it has a a grain of truth to it, yes?) (And if I am to fail my attempts to Stay Positive In the Current Year yet again, at least I am still able to cling on to bathroom references.)
So that I don't walk away from my computer and a)poke myself in the eye, b) give up on education and just apply for that job at Papyrus already or c) go back to bed and cry for days, let's just stick to the idea (and impending doom) of testing, shall we? I fear that my heart, my poor poor shriveled-after-so-many-disappointments heart can't take any more.
If I may, I'd like to begin with a story.
PART I (Yeah, there are multiple parts...get comfortable...and a drink.)
Setting: A dingy bar my fellow Super Colleagues and I frequented on Fridays for "sodas." Four young teachers sit at an oh-so-sticky table in wobbly chairs,
Super Colleague: You know, it's freaking March and I'm just starting to have time to teach science and social studies! (slosh, slosh)
Super Colleague: Dude, third grade is no joke! (slosh) We (slosh) spend all of our time (slosh slosh) that isn't reading, writing or math doing test prep crap. (guzzle)
Setting: An empty classroom after the children have been dismissed. Eight teachers from two different grades sit around a table. Strategery is being discussed.
Third Grade Super Colleague: So, the amount of test prep we have to do is overwhelming. We were thinking some of it could start in second grade.
Me: *mouth gaping open* Um, okay. Although that's a little horrifying to think about, I guess I understand.
Third Grade Super Colleague: Look, I know it's insane, but we need help so that maybe we can spend more time actually teaching and less time actually prepping.
Me: I think I might be crying. Am I crying?
Third Grade Super Colleague: A little.
And so we worked out a plan to help our Third Grade Super Colleagues out because being in a testing grade sounds like a terrible cross to bear as a teacher. Our plan was actually livable (or as livable as it can get in this era of Obsessive Testing)
Enter The Weave who had caught wind of our strategery and had decided to "pitch in." And no, she didn't tell us to just "imagine the tests" this time. THIS TIME she wielded her power and unrestricted photo copier access in ways that still have the rain forest crying. She dug up pre-made test prep materials, which the third grade teachers are mandated to use...and therefore are on a third grade reading level, photocopied the packets and added them to our second grade homework routine.
I shit you not.
Granted, she did not require us to spend our time photocopying, correcting and check listing the packets (which was a pleasant surprise and implied some sort of acknowledgement of how hard we were already working), but OH! Were they checklisted! And were we shocked! Appalled! Second graders were not ready! Can you imagine - second graders had a difficult time performing well on reading passages that were almost a full year above their current reading level and distributed for them to complete in isolation at home!!! How could our second graders possibly be bombing on materials intended for children a year older and wiser?
I mean, shut the front door!
Yet, in the grand tradition of Dog and Pony Shows everywhere, we were able to "boast" that our school began it's test preparation (and by "test preparation" I don't mean deep and meaningful instruction, I mean bubbling, work-sheeting and drilling - oh my!) in second grade. So boo-yah to all you other schools that allowed second graders to revel in the magic and wonder that is imaginative learning - suckers!
And despite my best efforts to stay positive in 2010 - the year I shall (hopefully) finish my dissertation and have a baby - I am wary about the Testing To Come. Because with all this talk of National Standards, talk of a National Test in Every Freaking Grade can't be far behind.
Wait, am I still crying?
That's about right.