It’s Sunday! Or, as I prefer to call her, Super Soul Crushing Sunday!
It is the day upon which I devote outrageous woman-hours in the pursuit of the creation of lesson plans that will approach solving the incredibly complex puzzle that is: “What exactly is it that you want me to teach, and in what exact sequence. and in what outfit?” There are many reasons that these questions are not as transparently obvious as one might expect them to be. Let’s just say that school reform says that everything should look different, but school reform is not really sure how. The one thing that it does affirm, with perfect clarity, is that teachers do not know. But it’s a secret.
I just got off the phone with a colleague, whose parting words were, “I’m going to be up all night.” That is not good for students, my friends.
So, just as a stop-gap measure, I have decided to develop some possible alternatives to the “we don’t know what we want except for test scores to go up” philosophy.
Alternative #1: Teach the students to knit. Consider the benefits: eye-hand coordination. Focus. Math skills. Focus. Knitting needles—okay, moving on.
Alternative #2: Set out to read an entire novel with the children, incorporating all of those literacy skills we are attempting to impart upon them. In case you were not aware, such things are frowned upon these days in our inner city schools, in favor of shortened, dumbed-down text that kids find completely boring. We have the new Common Core State Standards being phased in, which encourage delving more deeply into complex text, so perhaps this will shift? I have heard no rumblings to this effect. I remember having amazing novels read aloud to us by our teachers in elementary school; they remain some of the seminal pieces of literature of my life: Escape From Warsaw comes to mind. This was a powerful way in which we came to love books. The concept of inspiring kids to love reading and books is trivialized in urban education today (at least where I am), because such factors are not measurable in any quantitative manner. We want to know how many words per minute a kid can read. It is not bigoted to note that the majority of my students are not blessed by the gifts of these texts at home. That is just the truth.
Alternative #3: Enlist the kids and entrust them with the care and nurturing of a garden, and a yak. They will keep daily garden/yak records. Research the whole thing. They will be too tired to get into fights after school. Or during school.
Well, perhaps I will create a miniature bonsai zen yak garden on the windowsill. . . Meantime, back to it.