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If We Had Taken Three Days of Tests in Third Grade March 30, 2014

Filed under: education,parenting,school,teaching — peachyteachy @ 1:06 pm

When I was in third grade, I was dwelling on the outskirts of what might be deemed “painfully shy.” I lived in fear of being called to the Principal’s office.  This was ridiculous, because I never stepped out of line at that point of my life.

As children prepare for the ordeal that is state testing, I considered that little girl, who she was, and how she would have handled this level of demand at the age of eight or nine.  I realized that a large chunk of my self-esteem was built upon the fact that I was successful academically.  In short, I was a good reader, writer, and student in general.  As a smart, shy kid, I also experienced some painful times at the hands of the pack.  In many ways, I was fragile.  How many of us are solid at the age of eight?

I am not sure that the little girl that I was at eight would have handled the “higher” standards and the curriculum that teachers must slam young learners with today.  The one area where I had succeeded would have been threatened.  Would I have risen to the occasion, embracing the challenges of abstract, dense, no break for play, programming that is today cloaked by words like “best practice” and “data driven instruction?”  In high school, perhaps.  In elementary school, I fear that it would have broken me.  And I was a “smart kid.” I later proved to be a sort of natural test-taker, a fact that I consider pure luck of the draw in brain wiring.  Had I taken these lengthy, impossibly rigorous tests when I was so young, would I have followed that trajectory, or would I have experienced failure after failure until I was turned off from learning altogether?

It is said that children are resilient, and in many ways this is true.  That principle is being tested (no pun intended) as never before. As we continue to hold our most at-risk populations to the same measure of success as those who enjoy far greater privilege, we claim to be creating a system where graduation rates will increase.  I am not so sure.  I have watched fifth graders who went all year without passing a unit test in math or reading.  These students made growth, became better readers, learned mathematical concepts they had not before.  But it wasn’t enough for them to feel any measure of success.  The gap we claim to wish to close has been made intentionally wider.  As a teacher, I have feared for my career and felt frustration with the students when they could not somehow write something that, up until last  year, was included in the curriculum for two or three grades later.

I have students who have lived their lives in refugee camps, and students who live in dangerous conditions with parents who have their own negative history in education.  Our school is in a neighborhood where bad headlines are made regularly, where it isn’t safe to walk at night. We need to examine what we are creating for these huge numbers of at-risk kids.  Do we want them to feel like they belong out there, or in here?  Or worse, nowhere?

I didn’t grow up with money, but my parents were educated, and I was safe.  Even children of relatively stable situations are feeling levels of stress that we have no business inflicting on our  younger citizens.  My hat is off to the parents who have chosen to act on their convictions that something needs to change.  I encourage any adult to reflect and recall the experience of being a child in school–and then imagine adding in this factor that colors every day of instruction.  A useful exercise, if nothing else.


I Love Hand-Me-Downs! March 12, 2014

Filed under: cooking,food,humor,life — peachyteachy @ 10:03 am
Tags: , , , ,


This is my “newer” slow cooker! Okay, it’s my slow cooker’s identical twin.  You’ll notice that it lacks a touchscreen—that just means that it will last for another thirty years, all the while retaining its ability to tenderize a side of beef, given enough unattended hours.

The best thing about this baby is that it was free.  My older slow cooker was a yellow/greenish gingham number without a removable crock. We’re talking Flintstones era.

Yes, I am blessed to have a Kitchen Stuff Benefactor—it’s my friend Shazam, who lives in another state, and whom I visit on an annual basis.  When Shazam gets a new small appliance or kitchen item, I am pretty sure that she pops it into a box with my name on it.  If there are any other names on the box, Shazam, I don’t want to know.  This item, which is working on some corned beef as I write, was from several years ago.  Last year, I scored Shazam’s “extra” popover pan—her dinner parties’ loss was my gain! I am in love with popovers.

I do stroll down the slow cooker aisle at Target once in awhile.  Those snappy chevron stripe models are so seductive.  But if I bought a new one, I would probably end up with it hidden under a gingham crock cozy when I’m eighty.  And I wouldn’t think of my friend Shazam whenever I cook slowly.  Our arrangement is so much better.

Of course, I have to balance this generosity with a fair amount of Salvation Army donation on my part.  That’s what summer is for.



Peachy’s Inferno March 9, 2014

Filed under: cooking,food,humor — peachyteachy @ 3:39 pm
Tags: , ,

Some folks prefer to check their smoke detectors the bland, spring-ahead-with- batteries way.

I, on the other hand, chose to get a bit more creative, and set the toaster on fire! I sacrificed some nice multi-grain bread to do it, too.

My son happened to stroll into the kitchen, noticed the bonfire behind glass and softly billowing cloud of smoke, and made a beeline past his former firefighter dad, upstairs to me, where he casually informed me that something was on fire in the toaster.

Fortunately, the fire did not get too worked up before dad pulled the slightly melting plug from the wall, declaring that we would be needing a new toaster.  This was long overdue, as this appliance offered all the convenience of sitting around a campfire cookin’ some toast, as one (obviously) needed to monitor that mother far beyond what should be required by an appliance with a timer involved. I don’t remember it ever really cooperating that well.  God knows that I never tried to pull off the six stuffed pepper trick  in there, which seems to be the stock ad photo when the toaster barons want to extol the virtues of their burny machines. Apparently, however, asking it to toast some bread was a request too full of hubris.

When I started looking into all of the old school toaster ovens, I was delighted to find that I paid exactly the same today that a happy homemaker would have paid back in the day for a versatile toaster oven: $29.95.

What I love about the YouTube spot is that the commenters are so earnestly in love with their original ovens.  Since I burned my last one (NOT an original, by a long shot), I will never know that passion for a life-long toaster friend.

One little disclaimer: I should not have called it a “fire,” nor referred to it as “setting my toaster on fire.” In polite Toaster-speak, that’s called “having a flare-up.”, which I thought had to do with herpes. I stand corrected, Black and Decker.

Also, our smoke detectors do not work.  Add to list.


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