peachyteachy

For realsies

Teaching for College and Career Readiness? Yup! November 15, 2014

Filed under: education,humor,school,teaching — peachyteachy @ 2:17 pm
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One of the things they tell teachers is that one should not use sarcasm in the classroom.  Anyone who has read a few of my blog posts knows that if I took one of those moronic Facebook quizzes that ask “How sarcastic are you?” I would fall somewhere between “80 and 97 percent sarcastic”. On a good day.  That’s right, I embrace sarcasm as a trusty lifeskill, and I am proud to share that skill with my beloved students.  Without sarcasm, most teachers would be found collapsed in a pool of their own tears by the end of any given day.

Case in point: one teacher was attempting to teach a math lesson on a recent Friday afternoon. She was holding the promise of the weekly prize drawing over the students, in the hopes that this might inspire some shut up reduced volume in the room.  One student in particular was yukking it up as if the expanded form of 768 was as entertaining as an episode of Sponge Bob.  Also, she was repeatedly sticking her ample booty above the desk.  As a holder of an advanced degree, I can categorically assure you that sticking  your ass in the air is not conducive to learning, at least not in math.  Look it up. In my archives.

The aforementioned  excellent teacher made a suggestion to the class: “You can thank Ms. Zippity Doo Dah for the fact that we won’t have time for our prize drawing.”

To this, of course, several students complied, saying, “Thank you, Zippity Doo Dah.” *sigh* Clearly, this teacher had not delivered enough instruction in sarcasm. . .

But then, from out of the clear blue sky, another student, in a raspy and disgusted voice, like that of a 40-year-old smoker, yelled out, “You’re not supposed to say ‘THANK YOU!'”

“You’re supposed to just SIT THERE!”

The teacher swelled with pride.  Until the day got even better. The student continued, confirming that the teaching of the higher understanding of the sarcastic remark had been successful after all.

“. . .and FEEL ASHAMED!”

Teachers really do make a difference, after all.

 

 

 

 

Image: https://scontent-b-fra.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc1/t1.0-9/p552x414/1001966_650113861724104_1868953058799216981_n.jpg

 

 

Reporting the Unreportable: Report Card Comments January 22, 2014

Like laundry or dishes, if you are a teacher, report cards will have to be done.  Over and over and over.  These days, however, we don’t really have a lot that we are permitted to say in our comments.  What used to be the precious little narrative in which one could convey to a parent that, a) I get your kid and I appreciate them, or, b) I have your kid’s number and yes, he actually does have homework four days a week, despite the story he may be telling you—that has been usurped by the far wiser upper dwellers who know that what parents really want to know is their child’s numerical score on SOMETHING.  They also suggest the wording to explain what the hell those numbers are that we are so lovingly sending to our parents.  Oh, and, careful not to say anything personal (read: not quantitative).  Referring to a student’s personal qualities is considered unprofessional, apparently.  I do it anyway; of all the things they are looking to use as an excuse to can teachers, I’ll gladly go down in flames on the “kind and thoughtful” comment.

Thank you for taking up the one little rectangle of text where I felt that my perspective mattered.

And so, dear readers who have graciously read my predictably periodic feature about actual report card comments that we might write, along with their counterparts, the comments that tell the facts in a slightly harsher, less diplomatic light, the gap is widening.

Let’s get to it.

Actual comment:

Sherfleece scored 22 on the IRFTY (I Read Faster Than You) assessment.  A student performing on grade level should score at least 44.  In math, we are studying strategies for understanding place value and addition and subtraction to 1,000.  Because she is reading so far below grade level, she  does not understand the language on our new, rigorous math tests.  She can complete 6 more problems in January than she could in September.  By the end of the year, she should be able to complete at least 44.

Unwritten comment:

Sherfleece likes things that are pink.  She can spell “pink” on a good day. She requires a team of classmates to tie her three foot long pink shoelaces four times a day.  Although she cannot actually read, she prefers to take out her library book during math, as the language in our math instruction for six-year-olds was written by a dude at Oxford University who does have a six-year-old pet turtle.  Please send pencils.  Please do not send tinted lip gloss, pretty stickers, or craft supplies for making bracelets.  Thank you for sharing with me that seven people in your immediate family have an ADHD diagnosis, but we are not sure about Sherfleece yet. My diagnosis: I am a psychic.  She’s got it.

Actual comment:

Plantain is beginning to identify letter sounds.  He sometimes speaks to me in English to use the bathroom.  He scored at a Level Subzero on his IRFTY (I Read Faster Than You) assessment, while grade level students should score 44.  He scored zero on his math computation assessment. Plantain should be practicing his letter names and sounds at home, and memorizing math facts daily.

Unwritten comment:

Plantain is making great progress, considering the fact that he has lived his entire life in a refugee camp until three months ago.  His scores on any test should be the least of your concerns.  He is smiling at school and he doesn’t fall asleep after spending the day surrounded by people speaking another language.  Plantain is doing just fine.

Actual comment:

GIJoe has the potential to be a top student. He is reading at grade level, although he has difficulty answering questions about what he reads.  He scored 44 on the IRFTY (I Read Faster Than You) assessment.  He also scored 44 on his math computation assessment, but resists showing his work. He will need to make better effort  and positive behavior choices in order to continue to progress.  

Unwritten comment:

GIJoe acts as if I asked him to go to the scary woods with a bucket to fetch water whenever I ask him about his reading. You’d think he’d be down for the challenge, considering he wears camo head to toe a couple of days a week. He reads like a robot, and when asked a question such as “In what other machines might you find computers used today? Find the answer on p. 5,” his answer reads, “In America and Canada.”  Ask him to go to page five, pencils spontaneously break, he can’t hold his head up, page five ceases to exist.  If it ain’t easy, he ain’t doing it! Joe steals my markers and chalk and flushes them down the toilet.  Teaching GIJoe = Dental Surgery. Six hours a day.

 

Son of Report Card Comments, Volume 7.0 October 29, 2013

Filed under: humor,teaching,Uncategorized — peachyteachy @ 9:07 pm
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I struggled with “7.0” in that heading.

I wanted to use Roman numerals, in my heart of hearts.  But instead, it is my sad duty to report to you that your hard-won literacy in the Roman numeral is obsolete and undervalued in today’s world.

For a long time, students could learn the workings of the Roman Numeral system, and use it for one thing for the rest of their lives:  to figure out the year that a movie was made , because that is how they showed it in the credits.  Ones with extra high aspirations might even figure out that quaint convention of numbering a particularly unreadable portion of some text, using, of all things, lower case Roman numerals.

My point here is that there was something to be said for teaching kids stuff that they could actually do.   You could take a Roman numerals quiz and pass it and feel a little bit capable and smart.  Kids felt like freaking geniuses when they got that lower case mumbo jumbo.

Sadly, our new and improved loyalty to the idea that the only worthwhile learning involves super-rigorous, problem-solving, multi-step tasks has left many of my students feeling like they are stupid and unsuccessful.  And their inability to perform on densely worded assessments keeps pounding that nail even further into them.

Come grading time, we teachers write grades and comments that essentially say things like, “Your kid can do this and this and this! And that will never be enough to pass! Please read with them for twenty minutes every night!”

But enough of my silly rhetoric.  You’re here for the down-and-dirty of the report card world, the comments that I would write, if I could write anonymous comments.   So here is this quarter’s offering:

Actual comment:

Lisette is an active girl with a love of art. She struggles with decoding words, and should be reading her sight word list at home.

Unwritten comment:

Lisette startles me one thousand times a day when she appears two inches to my left, stating that she has a sore throat.  You may want to have her throat removed. If she gargles any more salt water, the nurse is concerned that she may contract scurvy.  Oddly, her throat never hurts at snack time, or at lunchtime. Please keep her crayon-filled pencil box at home, as I have run out of room to plaster her rainbow heart pictures, completed in detail while I am attempting to help her to practice the concept that 10 rainbow hearts are more than 8 fluffy kitties.

Actual comment: 

Butch can add single digits within 10, and loves art.  He does, however, require frequent reminders about using self-control in all settings.  He will be bringing home handwriting practice so that he will be better able to show his knowledge in writing.

Unwritten comment:

Butch knows that if there are six pencils in the classroom pencil jar, and he takes three of them, he will have a total of 72 pencils in the deepest recesses of his desk.  If he removes the eraser end of 21 of these, he will double the number of pencil points that he needs to break each and every day.  He dwells in a place we call La-La-Land, draws designs on his arms using dry erase markers that are worth their weight in gold, and repeatedly claims that “It’s a tattoo.” If I had a dollar for every time he falls out of his chair, I would be on a cruise around the world.  He alternates walking like a Nazi soldier and a Cirque de Soleil star on Red Bull.

Actual comment:

Sammy Davis III  is a bright boy who gets along well with peers and adults.  I am confident that he will become an academic leader, as he develops self-control with his tendency to talk during class.

Unwritten comment:

Sammy’s cuteness is outdone only by his ability to annoy with incessant talking.  However, his propensity for paying teachers compliments on wardrobe, jewelry, and choice of homework will serve him in good stead, in school and beyond.  I expect Sammy to run for public office, probably before his sixteenth birthday.  Just call him the Candyman.

 

Report Card Comments: End of Year Survival Report July 1, 2013

I wish that I could have included this video somehow in the final report cards of about eight of my students this year, because this pretty much captures their learning this year.  Eight kids who are making and shooting “paper hornets” on a daily basis has a pretty profound impact on the hygiene and learning of a classroom.  I believe that I have mentioned my students’ impressive ability to crease paper more effectively by spitting upon it.  They do not possess an overwhelming generosity of spirit, but they are really quite selfless when it comes to giving up and dispersing their saliva.

If you are new to Peachy’s report card comments, you may be picturing a pale suburban clientele, in which case you would be sadly misled.  Aren’t they adorable?

My class is a bit less enthusiastic. And if they all put their hands up like that, people would be losing consciousness within seconds. We don’t encourage that nonsense. No, mine are more like this:

But let’s get down to it—the bane of the educator’s existence.  The comments.  The comments I tackle here will tend to revolve around students for whom the teacher scratches her head for minutes on end, just trying to come up with one small piece of insight that offers a suitably hazy filter.  You don’t need any guidance to come up with comments for that class up there. . .Well, maybe that one with the Christmas bow in her hair.

We try to include some tidbit of data—this is really for the administrators, as parents really don’t have a huge interest in that numerical food by which we live and die.  Thus, in our nicely laundered comment, we may say something like this:

El Capitan is reading 120 words per minute.  He has mastered his multiplication facts through 5.  El Capitan should continue to read challenging chapter books and practice skip counting daily this summer.  Good luck in sixth grade!

Truth:

El Capitan can sound out words but has no clue as to the meaning of what he reads.  This is especially apparent when he constructs “paper hornets” under his desk during reading tasks.  Although you have been unable to penetrate the force field surrounding the school this year, I have learned that the library is four steps away from your home, and people are permitted to borrow and read books from there. They have a lot of them.  Also, my dog can skip count by fives.  Step it up. GOOD LUCK in sixth grade. 

Slightly altered from reality:

LaShaw’na has demonstrated an interest in graphic design—this, combined with her expanding vocabulary, have resulted in a colorful social studies project during this marking period.  LaShaw’na has also developed a unique note-taking strategy.  Read, read, read! Good luck in sixth grade, LaShaw’na!

Truth:

LaShaw’na embellishes her textbooks, her desk, her pantlegs, and her arms with the proper noun, “Bitch Ass.”  She consistently spells “Bitch Ass” correctly!  I am guessing that this is the given name of an older relative, first name “Bitch,” last name “Ass.”  It would be fantastic if Bitch Ass could spend some time reading with LaShaw’na this summer, as she tends to stare blankly when asked questions such as, “What happened in that last sentence we read?” Good effing LUCK next year!

Made up niceties:

Dennis has an affinity for physical fitness, the fine arts, and for word study.  I am confident that he will make his mark on middle school! Good luck in 6th grade!

Truth:

Once, Dennis said the word “wheat” (pronounced “hweat”) three thousand times in the space of fifteen minutes. He has launched a small business selling transparent tape sculptures of zombies, and has clean-and-jerked a large table.  These activities have proven to be slight obstacles to learning, as the words get blurry when one is sprinting past the classroom door.  Remember, snack is not provided in the In-School Suspension room at middle school.  But the lunch is equally delicious! GLI6G!

Teachers everywhere, have a lovely summer.

 

 
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