Tag: Teaching

Snow Day Satisfaction

In the life of this teacher, there are few mornings that compare to the moment the trill of my ringtone blasts through the silence of my five AM house to alert me to the impending, yet unexpected, snow day. When I was a child those days were blessings from above, a chance to spend extended time in my jammies and play with neighborhood friends in the snow. Later, they continued to bless my life, giving me an extra day to study for that test I just “knew” I was going to fail, or brush up on my Super Mario Brothers skills.

Today, these unexpected blessings continue to be the bright spots in an otherwise dreary, grey, Ohio winter. This morning, when the call came in, I was four chapters into the revision of my newest manuscript. Instead of having to call it quits for the day, I was given the opportunity to continue my work, stay in my jammies, drink another cup of coffee that didn’t need to be transported in a travel mug, and make cinnamon rolls for my daughter.

Now, as it approaches the time I’d be returning from school, I have nothing but gratitude for these days and this career that provides them. Teaching is hard – emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting. These days help me not only accomplish more toward my career as an author, but to downshift from the daily rigor. To remember who I am and why I do what I do. And, no, I’m not talking about the summers “off” and snow days. I’m talking about inspiring my students to be the best humans they can possibly be. To strive for more than the status quo, and to know deep in their souls, that anything is possible.

I hope if you were able to enjoy a snow day today, that you took a moment to recharge, revitalize, and reinvigorate what lights your soul on fire. For me, it was writing, meditation, yoga, a music-filled afternoon shower, and time spent with Jillian. Up next is creating a vision board. If you’re rolling your eyes right now, just remember, we have unlimited potential, my friends. Create. Inspire. Delight in what sets your soul ablaze. You have no one to answer to but yourself. And don’t forget to take a moment to bask in the magic that is a snow day (even though this is Ohio, and it’s already raining…again…).

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson


A Gentle Reminder

Teachers work hard.

No matter how you feel about the profession or those in it, one thing is for certain. Good teachers put in many hours and go above and beyond to make the lives of their students more memorable. None of us went into the profession hoping to satisfy our state department of education (although it has become a necessary evil). We chose this profession for one reason, and one reason only… to enrich the lives of students.

The one downfall to this, however, is that we rarely get to see the impact we’ve had on their lives. Students get older, move on to the next grade, until eventually, we are but a speck in their memory. Hopefully, a speck they remember fondly, but still… you get the point.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of experiencing one of those rare moments of gratification. I was mentioned in the acknowledgments of a student’s novel.

“The last person I would like to thank is Mrs. Anthony. She brought NaNoWriMo to [our] school.”

-Joshua, 4th Grade Student at London Elementary School

It’s nothing more than a blurb, but I can’t tell you how warm and fuzzy that kind of thing makes me feel. That one line makes all the extra effort worthwhile. And since today I’ll be opening up sign ups at our school for Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), it seems my young friend had perfect timing.

Thanks, Joshua, for proving that what we do makes a difference. You rock, my friend! And remember…

A_Mary

Rant of the Week

As many of you know, I am a full time teacher. Most of the time it is a career that brings me some amount of joy. I enjoy working with the students. I love getting to know their likes and dislikes, their goals and their fears. All of that inspires me. However, government regulations keep encroaching on that tiny sliver of joy that remains for me. This coming week marks the start of Testing Week. This is the week that separates the men from the boys. Except, we’re talking about eight and ten-year-olds here, so in essence it just separates the “proficient” from the “basic”. 

This year my state has instituted a wonderful new rule! (Can you hear the sarcasm, yet?) This year, those students who do not score “proficient” or above on the third grade standardized test win a prize! Yep, that’s right! “What do they win?” you ask. Well, they win another year in third grade!

Yes. You read that right. The students who don’t pass will be subjected to yet another year of third grade. You might be thinking, “Well, that’s good right? It gives them another opportunity to understand the material. After all, if they didn’t pass the test, then they must not be ready for fourth grade.”

I understand that logic, but let’s look at a case study, shall we? Little Johnny came in to third grade reading at a level E (that’s early first grade, for those of you who are not familiar with the leveling system). He is now reading at a level L. Good for Johnny! He’s made more than a year’s worth of progress! But, he’s still only reading at a mid second grade level. This week he will sit down to take a test that he must read and comprehend without any help from his teacher. The informational text sample selection I downloaded this morning (out of sheer curiosity and to check the readability level), is written at a 7th grade reading level.

Take a moment… Let that sink in…

So little Johnny, who has worked his little hiney off this school year will be expected to read and comprehend a selection that is meant for a 7th grade reader.

Oh, yes, Mr. Governor… this test is a fair representation of the skills our students possess.

Give me a break!

How can we encourage our students to enjoy learning when we penalize those who have the misfortune of being a struggling reader? We are setting these students up for a lifetime of feeling inadequate. I shudder to think what the dropout rate will be across my great state once these students reach the ripe old age of 18. Evidently foresight is not a quality inherent in politicians.

I am a reading specialist. I work with struggling readers on a daily basis. Many, like Johnny, have made huge growth this year. But will it be enough to help them pass a test meant for a 7th grader? I’d like to be optimistic, but I have to face the fact that even if Johnny does struggle his way through the selection without giving up, he will never be able to synthesize the information enough to answer higher order questions pertaining to it.

So here we are… Number 2 pencils sharpened, ready for the praise that comes from “proficient” or the shame that will accompany anything less. If only the policy makers realized that these numbers are children.

*End of rant…* Thanks for listening.