Tuesday, February 21, 2006

TAKS torture

Introducing the newest form of torture: TAKS (the dreaded "TEST" that keeps upper elementary school kids from passing if they fail it. If too many pass it, they make it harder and more unpredictable the next year...and the next...pretty soon, first graders will need a master's degree to advance to 2nd)

Today was the grumpiest day I've had this year at school. I'll give you the setting...
It's a cold, wet, drizzly day with 19 first graders (one dropped off at 8:15 today due to fever--of course, not the RIGHT one). Yesterday was indoor recess and a 'modified' schedule (sure to make any kid bonkers) for the upper elementary. Today starts off with my immediate shushing and snapping to get the 19 youngsters in line and silent. I mutter grumblings under my breath as I clear the sleep from my eyes. "Should I have stayed up that late?" I wonder. In walks the TAKS monitor telling me to keep my class quieter because they can 'hear us clear out in the hall'. I think we accidentally breathed in unison and created a loud sigh. Oops.

I rebuked my 'kids' in a strained whisper and gave an eye roll to really "communicate" my frustration with them. This continues all day until lunch. A jumper here...a knee hitting the floor there...each time, more rebuke as a sly smile crosses his face. "Will Miss Brown really blow steam out of her ears if I do it again? Or was that just a frustrated, ridiculous threat?" This goes on for hours.

After we walk down the hall in complete silence (all the while perfecting my 'evil teacher eye' with one student after another), I go for my 15 minute lunch break, only to find out that all the 'TAKS' teachers get a catered free lunch from an upscale place. All year they press us K, 1, and 2 teachers to "take the test seriously because we are TAKS teachers as much as the rest"--until the rubber meets the road, I see. At least the coke machine gave me an extra coke today...it knew it was about to meet its death for taking my money yesterday if it did it again.

There they are...19 little pairs of eyes, back in my room. They had to have a 'silent lunch' due to the test, so they are excited about recess. No recess, the TAKS gods say. No special areas either. That equals no bathroom for Miss Brown today. No rest from all the little questions and the massive amounts of shushing. Ahhh...Finding Nemo and an early release birthday pass for me. Salvation.

That chai tastes better today...I wonder why. I think I'm already feeling a cold coming on for TAKS day 2007.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Why I really SHOULD hate Valentine's Day

So, after writing yesterday, I was talking with a friend and reminiscing about Valentine's past. I couldn't quite remember why I loved the holiday so much, but I sure remembered a reason why I should hate it...here goes.

It was a sunny Valentine's Day in Mississippi. I was floating on air because I was a sassy 6th grader (the top of the school in Mississippi elementary schools, but no matter...). I finally started "going with" my longtime 5th/6th grade crush, Tad Doolittle (yes, that was his name--you'll see why in a minute). We changed classes in the hallway, along with 5th grade, and I anxiously awaited seeing him there because we had different homeroom classes. I wondered, "Will I finally get a card or rose this year?" I had never had a Valentine before. Oh, the anticipation.

There he was...scrawny, skinny, and lovely. Oh, so popular. He walked over to me with a rose in front of the whole upper elementary. Wow, so public a display! "This gets better and better," I thought. Everyone was watching as he handed me the rose...but, I noticed something wasn't right. The silk rose had been colored black with a marker. What's this? A note that read something to the effects of, "I don't want to spend Valentine's with you, Bucky!"

But, you're probably thinking...hey, your name is Katie. You may even be thinking, why did he call you Bucky? Funny you should ask. Well, at the time (before braces really started being slapped on at birth), I had extremely hidious buck teeth. [Please insert your thoughtful, "Wow, but your teeth look so hot NOW" comment, wink..wink] Darn that Tad Doolittle! He took a perfectly great holiday and potentially soiled it.

But I realized after I remembered the story with my friend that one "doolittle" can't wreck a day of the year when I celebrate and give thanks for the most important thing on earth...people and relationships.

It also helps to know that ol' Tad later went to prison for constructing a bomb or something. Poor guy. [conceal inappropriate laughter now]

Monday, February 13, 2006

My Funny Valentine

I will start by saying that I LOVE, LOVE Valentine's Day--I always have (although I am not sure why, because it's not like it has been spectacular my whole life). But, this year kinda blows. I just got back from my last uncle's (on my dad's side) funeral...I have no "prospect" to even crush over...and I had to cancel my Valentine's party because I was out of town for the funeral...oh, yeah, and I had to clean up raw sewage that had backed up in my shower last night around midnight. It's like all the dark forces of people who hate Valentine's Day are ganging up on me this year. Ugh!

My roommate said it well with this quote on her blog:
"I have enjoyed my singleness, but it's like being unemployed. It's easier to enjoy when you know when it will end."

So true. Well, I am here to have hope in Christ. As cheesy as it sounds to some people, He can be my Valentine--He's the most faithful one anyway. Also, I want to give props to my sister, best friend in PA, and my many friends who tell me (and show me) how much they care about me. Who said Valentine's was for couples?