There aren't many 4 letter words that scare a teacher, particularly one in the BD/ED population. But, there's one in particular I think my colleagues and I agree can cause us to recoil in dread:
No one in their right mind enjoys standardized testing season, but it's been especially offputting this year as our school scrambles to recover from some deficits in test scores from the past couple years. Instead of lumping the test sessions into a couple days as usual, they were spread out over two whole weeks just one hour a day, making teaching any normal lessons the rest of the day very painful for all involved. Then, there were the highlighter yellow "Rah rah for ISAT" (well, that's not EXACTLY what they said) t-shirts that we had to wear 7 days, nearly consecutively. By the time the make-ups were over, test booklets were turned in, and t-shirts ripped to shreds (oh yes, there were teachers that tore them to shreds) everyone--adults and kids alike--was ready to be locked in the looney bin.
The natural progression from this point was to begin an intensive one week poetry unit with my 7th graders, squeezed between gruelling ISATS and a long overdue spring break, and complete with an extended writing assignment, right? NO! Of course not! Worst teaching practices ever!
But I really didn't have a choice. Due to the quite exceptional needs of this group of students, we've been trailing behind the rest of the 7th grade English classes the entire year, and right now it's imperative that they catch up because their next writing unit is tied into another class's project.
Amidst the madness, I had to miss my English class one day this week and I was forced to assign a 20 line poem with a sad mood and several other required elements (figurative language, sound devices, and so on) that day in my absence. When my meeting got out right at the end of 8th period, I caught Alejandro walking out of the media center where he was to be working on the poem.
"How did your poem writing turn out?"
"Good [trademark Beavis/Butthead laugh]."
Alejandro skipped town before I could inquire any further into the progress he had made while I was gone. But I gathered a better understanding once I returned to my room and found a typed, finished first draft of his poem on my desk.
And now, for your viewing pleasure, an Alejandro original:
LASERS MAKE ME SAD
Not a lot of things make me sad
People dying is one
It is sad
In movies they die dramtic deaths
In some movies, when people die they make people bbreathe heavy
It is like they just jogged
It is sad when I lose at a video game
When I lose I practice more so I can own and p'wn (gaming term)
And then I eat a scone and break a bone
It sounds like a crunch
It is sad when people get cramps
When they keep eating beets
They want to cry
When they cry they go boo hoo!
Instead of swimming they should ride their bike
It is sad when I get in trouble and get bad grades
When I get bad grades the school building gets mad at me
The school throws pencils and carpeting at me
It is sad, and I feel awkard because schools should not do this
There are the things that make me sad
There you have it ladies and gentleman: the tried and true cure for standardized teaching exhaustion and general teacher burn out. Thank you, Alejandro. Thank you.