Wednesday, April 24, 2013
This defines my life this week. And next week. Standardized testing is here. I am testing a small group of students who require special accommodations during the day and then spending my afternoons trying to continue to drill as many facts, names, and events into the minds of my own gifted students in the hopes that they will just remember them until the Social Studies test on Tuesday. The days are tiring and stressful. It is my least favorite week of the year. I am tired from the long days, but then I can't sleep at night because I am worried that I might misplace a test document and lose my job, or sleep through my alarm and arrive late on a testing day. It is definitely not the best part of this career.
I read an article tonight about standardized testing as I was scrolling through Facebook newsfeeds trying to distract myself from the stress of the day, and it really hit home. I try to avoid posting my opinions about things pertaining to my career on social network pages, because quite frankly, most of my co-workers are also my Facebook friends, and I just don't want to ruffle any feathers or make anyone think poorly of me because my opinion isn't "textbook." Don't get me wrong...I truly love the place that I work (and I am not just saying that to cover myself here). I work in a beautiful facility with some of the most excellent teachers out there. I have great respect and appreciation for my bosses, and my co-workers, and would not want to work anywhere else. My students are overall pretty fabulous too. It's a magnificent place to work.
But the sad thing is this... as much as I truly LOVE to teach, I don't love being a teacher anymore. There. I...said...it... I have struggled with this for a few years now, and have spent many hours wondering what has happened to the passion I used to have for my career. I thought it might be the fact that I am a working mom now, or that I am getting older and connect less with my students because of the age gap, or that my interests in life are just changing as I "mature." But truly, after reading this article and feeling the tears welling up in my eyes, I realize that what has changed is education itself. I have changed right along with it, to the point that I am not the teacher I always wanted to be. The current policies, the over-emphasis on standardized testing and data-driven instruction, and the daily implementation of standards to the point of complete bombardment has honestly taken away my passion for what I do (insert sad face here).
Ten years ago I really was such a better teacher. I did not have standards written on my board each day, or make my students copy them in their agendas, or print them at the top of every assignment, performance task, and worksheet I used. I used "teachable moments" not only to teach my kids history, but also to open their eyes to life lessons that will follow them as they grow up and hopefully become productive citizens in our society. We had meaningful conversations in class, used current events and applied them to historical events we were supposed to be learning about, went on more field trips, had more guest speakers, and truly just had much more fun learning. But now..."ain't nobody got time for that." The standards must be covered. Topics that don't begin with something like SS8CG don't get discussed in class. A perfect example of this is last week's Boston Marathon bombing. I barely spent 5 minutes in each class talking about what happened with my students, and the entire time I had my doors closed hoping no administrator or co-worker would pop in and discover that I was (GASP) using class time to discuss current events instead of doing CRCT preparation and review with the tests being a week away. How sad is that?
It's hard to teach things you don't see as relevant. Especially when the kids DEFINITELY don't see most things pertaining to history as relevant anyway. Do I feel it is important for my students to understand events such as the Holocaust and how prejudice and hate led to the extermination of over 6 million Jews? Yes I do. Do I see merit in teaching my 8th graders how individuals and states in our own country felt so strongly about certain ideals and economic policies that they were willing to separate into two countries and fight a war against each other? Absolutely I do. But spending day after day making sure they know the name of the first African American mayor in Georgia or the names of the three men from Georgia who signed the Declaration of Independence...I find myself just drilling this information into them to help them prepare for these tests while all the time wondering WHY they need to know it? With all of the modern technology out there literally at our fingertips, why is it so necessary for them to memorize details such as the name of the African American slave from Georgia who obtained his freedom by fighting in the American Revolution? Why not just let them whip out their iPhone they have in their pocket that they are not supposed to have but do anyway, let them type a few letters, and VOILA...there's your answer!?!
My first two years as a teacher I did not know what standards were. Our state followed the QCC's back then, but no one even brought me a copy of them and I did not know about them until I was partly into my second year as a teacher (nowadays that would NEVER happen). But I will tell you that those were the best days of my teaching career, and I bet if you track down those kids I had they will tell you that I was a fabulous teacher (not tooting my own horn here but I feel like I really was then). The standards that we have to live by nowadays as teachers have caused me to move into a direction that I am not happy with... from motivated to just, well, mundane.
I miss being passionate about what I am doing. I do love my co-workers, my place of work, and my students. I truly, truly do. But I don't feel like I have the chance to "work my magic" anymore, and as a result, I just don't love my job like I used to. And that makes me very, very sad. I do hope that things will turn around as more and more people may have the realization that I have had. Standardized testing and the over emphasis on the daily implementation of standards in order to prepare these kids to pass those standardized tests have stripped us as educators of the opportunity to do what we love best...truly EDUCATE our students and prepare them adequately for the future that lies ahead of them. But, hey, at least they will know the name of the first African mayor in Georgia. And that will definitely blaze a path for them to be successful young adults one day...no doubt.
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Spring Break has finally arrived. Which means I will have time to clean, time to organize, time to play, time to rest, and time to blog. I know it has been a while since I last posted, but we have been busy as always, and I am finding life with two little boys can be quite time consuming!
Today was Easter. A long-awaited holiday. A day to spend with family. My favorite kind of day. We started getting ready on Friday. I had a crazy last minute idea to go shopping on my day off of work for new Easter outfits for the family. Thankfully my dear friend Jenna went along to help.
Colson was not a fan of shopping on Friday. He is too young to be bribed with a trip to the cookie company and too old to enjoy just rolling around and people watching at the mall. But we survived and succeeded at finding outfits for the entire family!
Saturday morning we went to the new church we have been visiting for their Easter egg hunt. The boys submitted their requests to the Easter Bunny,
made some crafts,
devoured some cupcakes,
and literally pounced after some eggs.
Cooper's basket was overflowing. And yes, each egg had candy in it!
After the hunt we went home and dyed our eggs for Sunday.
Cooper took a break to read to Colson for a little while. He is so good to read to his brother. Cooper has grown to really enjoy reading and Colson loves to be read to. It's a good deal for both of them!
The Easter Bunny showed up as promised. Wreck it Ralph for Coopman and a Dream Light for Colson.
Colson was beyond excited about his new Dream Light!
I tried to snap some pictures of them before church, but trying to take a picture of two boys outside when the ground is wet and they are dressed in their Easter outfits is just a recipe for disaster.
Cooper decided he wanted to give a thumbs up in every picture.
When I told him to stop...this is all he gave me. :-(
I am sad I did not get a picture with both of them, but am glad Colson gave me at least one smile.
And of course...the thumb showed back up.
After church, the family came over for lunch.
Daddy and Colson enjoyed a nice nap after lunch
while the kids played.
Despite the rain, we were able to sneak in an outdoor egg hunt. The rain boots came in handy, everyone still got soaked, and we tracked mud all over the house. A perfect afternoon.
I am so thankful that Cooper was able to spend his entire Easter afternoon with his cousins. We don't see nearly enough of them. They all seemed to have such a good time together (except for Colson who pretty much slept through the whole thing...heavy napper)!
My favorite part of Easter, though, is that Cooper seems to really be learning about the true meaning of the celebration. We talked a good deal about the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ. He asked me many questions about it and I could see that he was actually starting to think about the true meaning of Easter. Tonight when he said his prayers, he thanked God for "Jesus who died and came back to life for my sins." Then, he followed it up by praying for "Marfa" as he calls my Aunt Martha, and he told Jesus to tell her hello tonight for us. We talk about Martha frequently so I was not really surprised that he mentioned her but was not expecting him to pray for her tonight. He never ceases to surprise me and amaze me at the way his mind is always going and always thinking. Tonight he had me blinking back tears as we finished our prayers. If only he had been given the chance to know Martha. They would have had so much fun together!
Easter 2013...a very blessed day spent with family. I am feeling very thankful tonight, especially since I don't have to work this week! Yay for Spring Break!
Sunday, February 24, 2013
This year my Valentine's Day was sweeter than normal. No... I did not get a romantic weekend away, or even a night out with my man, but I had three Valentine's sweethearts this year who made my day extra special. All three of them have my heart for sure!
Cooper was so excited to have his Valentine's exchange at school this year, and spent an evening writing all of the cards for his class all by himself.
He even did the labels for the flowers we took to his teachers. They were a great Aldi find the day before Valentine's Day.
After finishing his cards and packing everything for the next day, we made a yummy Valentine's trail mix for his party. He was up much later than normal, but sometimes that's ok, especially on holiday nights, right?
After I finally got both asleep I lined up their Valentine's gifts. Cooper got a new thermos to take water to school in along with some Star Wars candy, Colson got two new sippy cups and some puffs, and Daddy got a new armband for his iPod.
I even bought half a dozen doughnuts from Dunkin Doughnuts. When Josh saw them he literally stopped in his tracks and said "WHO ARE THESE FOR?" We never have doughnuts...and when Cooper saw them the next morning he was just as surprised as his Daddy!
The following morning, Cooper had his presents open before I even had my eyes open. But I managed to get up and snap at least one picture of him opening Colson's for him. Poor Dave...I forgot to get him a Valentine this year. He definitely noticed too!
I would not let Cooper eat doughnuts for breakfast, though, so I made him homemade pop tarts instead. They were so easy and very yummy!
Cooper even had a new Valentine's shirt to wear to school.
Colson was able to spend his Valentine's Day at his Nan and Pa's house because his sitter's daughter was sick. That was a pretty good treat for him for sure.
Cooper's party at school was short and sweet. Basically, there was a ton of sugar for kids who were already crazy because of it being Valentine's Day. They had more food than they ever could have eaten and all left with bags full of candy and cards. Mrs. Giglio never wants to give up a second of instructional time (such an overachieving teacher... which I love of course), so they spent the first part of their party sorting candy hearts as part of a math activity.
After the activity she let them eat the candy. Clearly, Cooper liked that part.
Then, they sang a bit while the parents filled their plates with food. "I love you in the morning" is what they are saying here. It's the same "I love you" song I sing to Colson each night.
Cooper wanted a picture with his friends. He actually asked me to take his picture with the three girls, and then one of his buddies jumped into the picture at the last minute. Cooper is apparently a bit of a ladies man. He talks about these girls all the time!
But no matter how many ladies he may charm in his lifetime, I have to say that his heart better always belong to his mommy, right?
Our evening was a nice and relaxing one at home. Josh cooked Filet Mignon for us on the grill (that was the first steaks we have purchased and grilled in a very long time) and the boys enjoyed their favorite meal (chicken nuggets, macaroni, and peas). Josh surprised me with a new Coach bag (WOW) which I have enjoyed carrying each day since Valentine's Day. It was a very unexpected gift!
Overall, this Valentine's Day was pretty much perfect. I am a very blessed girl to have three very handsome fellas as my sweethearts!