written: March 2011
7:00 Arrive at School. Run to the conference room to check out the testing books. Feel like I have to sign my life away to get the testing materials. Run back to my classroom where my students are hapazardly arranging their desks into "rows". Scream at them to sit down and shut up (not really, but it's a good fantasy).
8:00 Testing begins. Walk around the room peering at student's answer sheets for 2 1/2 hours to make sure they are bubbling correctly. Blood pressure rises steadily as I notice students are not using the strategies I have taught all year. Argh!! But I can't say anything, not yet anyway. E gets done in 1 hour. HELLO??? There are 8 LONG reading passages on the test with 58 questions.
9:00 Still testing.
10:00 Still testing.
10:30 Done at last! Count every single test booklet, answer sheet, scrap piece of paper, and pencil. Collect all and take back to the conference room. What do you mean the students were supposed to bubble their names in? No one told us that. So I have to do them all? F@#*!
11:00 Trying to hold the fort down. No one allowed to leave the room until the "all clear - testing is completed" call is made. Poor kids are trying so hard to be patient. I know their behinds are tired from sitting in those awful plastic chairs, and they are dying to talk.
11:20 Lunch! We tiptoe to the cafeteria. I monitor the lunch line to make sure no one decides to act like an animal and that everyone makes healthy food choices (because now that is the school's responsibility too). Finally, I get to sit down to eat my lunch. 20 minutes . . . okay, I think I can manage to finish my salad if I don't talk to anyone at all. "Ms. Parker, can I go to the bathroom?" "Ms. Parker. there is nowhere to sit at our table." "Ms. Parker, may I use the restroom?" "I need to go to the bathroom." 5 minutes left. Principal sits down next to me cheerfully. Uh-oh, this can't be good. "I want to talk to you about a situation . . ." Lunch time is over.
11:45 On the way back to classroom, tutor informs me that the kids I picked for tutoring are different from the ones the principal picked for tutoring, and she is supposed to tutor the principal picked kids. "Um, who do you think knows these children better? Who teaches them day in and day out? Who grades their papers and sees what they understand and don't understand?" I want to say all this, but I don't. I just smile and nod, because sometimes it is easier that way.
12:00 Kids are all sprawled around me listening to "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" as I read it aloud. I love this part of the day. I love re-reading my favorite children's books to new kids every year. I love listening to the children laugh when I read the funny parts--they cackle especially heartily at the part "Mrs. Salt's enormous behind was sticking in the air like a giant mushroom." Hee hee. I giggle too.
12:45 Conferencing with J and D and one of them lets an SBD. "Boys, what I have I told you about passing gas around me?" "It wasn't me!" D. exclaims, opening his eyes widely. I give the other boy my mean teacher look, but he just laughs.
1:15 Recess! Oh crap, we can't play on the blacktop because of the sighting of the "dog that looks like it might be a pit bull" (WTH??), so we have to go to the mud pit we call the playground. Two injuries and several muddy kids later, I decide it's time to go in.
1:45 "No homework tonight. You guys worked really hard on the reading test and you need to rest your brains to be ready for the math test tomorrow." Smiles all around.
2:00 Dismissal. Walk 3 kids to after school tutoring. No adult present to be in charge. Wait--does that mean I have to be in charge? Upon investigation, it appears that the kids were supposed to go home and then come back from 3 - 5 for tutoring. Miscommunication again. Will it ever get better?
2:30 Principal pulls me aside for another talk. I'm getting a student who is being pulled out of a different classroom. I now have 27 kids. But I can't say no. With budget deficits and talk of less teachers next year, I can't afford to be the non-compliant one.
3:15 Leave school to go to get treats for tomorrow's staff meeting. It is fourth grade team's turn to provide snacks for our monthly celebration. I'm in no mood for a celebration, and I don't think anyone else on staff is either. But this is a required staff meeting and a required celebration, so we will all be there. Because that's what teachers do. They show up when they supposed to, even when they are dead dog tired, they give even when it feels like there is nothing left to give, and they smile until it feels like their cheeks might crack.