Un pedazo de corazón


The (blurry) picture is of the bulletin board in my room where I posted the Valentines my students (9th graders! smelly, snotty, too-cool-for-school 9th graders!) gave me yesterday. They’re in Spanish, which I can read just badly enough to make out. “Mi maestra favorita,” anyone?

It’s the kind of warm fuzzy stuff that reminds me why I became a teacher in the first place (other than graduating from college with a degree in poetry and an overpowering feeling of panic). Soon I’ll be wearing holiday-themed sweaters, tapered jeans, and a brooch that says, “Teachers have class.”

Heaven help us all on the day after Valentine’s Day, though – the children have all the energy and motivation of cokeheads in the morning. Many a cavity was lovingly begun yesterday, I have no doubt, and by me as well, starting with the frosted and pink sugar topped cookie a student gave me at 7.30 yesterday morning.

The alarmingly large baby head is my adorable baby cousin, the only child sweet enough to make me think that own of my one might be a good idea some day. Since she and the rest of my family live in Pennsylvania, I never met her until after her first three months of nonstop colicky screaming. She’s nothing but giggles and fat baby legs every time I see her.

* * * *

Let no one forget, however, in this season of love, that we are also beginning the season of standardized testing. I’ll be subjecting my kids to the first round of the TAKS on Tuesday. Standardized testing isn’t a big deal at my school because our kids tend to do pretty well, but it’s a huge deal in most of the surrounding districts. After all, teachers have been copying and administering practice tests since September, in the vain hope that working on one more set of sample multiple choice questions will somehow edge a child who can’t really read or write into a passing score. And to be fair, most of the test-drilling is forced on teachers by their district, who don’t really know what else to do when everyone’s fate is tied to a score that’s the result of a few hours of high-stakes testing.

The most clever and telling assessment of this system I’ve heard lately came from a woman who’s in one of my graduate education classes and had recently traveled to Austin to lobby for the education budget. She said, “Weighing the cow doesn’t make it heavier.”

* * * *

In other news, Grouchypants made good this Valentine’s day. I came home from Target where I bought his last minute gift (a popcorn popper, continuing a tradition of small appliances, after I gave him a mini-chopper for our last anniversary – let no one say romance is dead) and found him cooking a delicious dinner of stuffed shells and garlic bread. Then we snuggled in with a bottle of red wine to watch this week’s Lost and realized, ugh, they pushed it back an hour, which kept us up long past our usual 9.30 bedtime.

It was all worth it at the end when Desmond revealed that it’s Charlie and not Claire he’s been trying to save from various untimely deaths. Now I’m just counting down until whiny Charlie’s final moments. Think he’ll turn back to the drugs once he realizes his days are numbered?


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Filed under From the seamy underbelly of rm 33

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