Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Tests and Meetings: The Life of a Teacher

Midterms are here.

Yes, it's Test Season at Starfish High, and we the teachers are making our students' lives miserable.

Of course, if they'd just study...

Right about now, my Mom is thinking, "You're one to talk, Dustin."

Right about now, my Dad is thinking, "You're one to talk, Dustin."

Right about now, I'm laughing at the image of my parents coming in to my room and telling me to turn off my TV and stereo if I'm going to study.

Right about now, I'm really happy I'm on the test-making side of the equation instead of the test-taking side.

Today, I tested my second year Oral Communication students. My high level class is one of my best classes. They're great. From the beginning of second semester, I've been walking them through Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven". They all really enjoy it, and I've really gotten into teaching it. It's been fun seeing them start to understand the language and grasp what's going on in the poem. Their eyes widen, and they start to get creeped out. I act out parts of them poem to help them get a picture in their minds of what's going on. They have all understood the grim greatness that is Poe. Yes! I've succeeded. I've brought young minds over into my world.

Mwah hah hah hah hah
.
Umm, yeah. Excuse me for that little...outburst.
We've had a great time studying the poem, but as midterms approached, I realized that I needed to test them on something. Since we'd been studying "The Raven", I decided to make them each memorize a stanza of the poem and recite it to me. I also followed up with a few questions, but the main "test" was the recitation.
At first, I was going to be nice and let them read it...but then I realized that these kids were up to the challenge. "Memorize it!" I said.
"Huh?"
"That's too hard."
"No way!"
blah blah blah whine whine whine ad infinitum ad nauseum
"Just shut up and do it!"
Test Time. They did it. Each and every one of them. For all that whining, they put their game faces on and came prepared. I'd made each of them copies of Christopher Walken's rendition of "The Raven" from the absolutely cool "Closed on Account of Rabies: Poems and Tales of Edgar Allan Poe" double CD so that they could get a better idea of the pacing and rhythm of the poem. Everybody memorized their selection well, but there were two or three students who NAILED it. I'm talking chills. They creeped me out. That right there shows that these kids have a damn fine command of the English language. Plus, when they're pronouncing words like "pondered", "surcease", "entreating", "murmured", "Plutonian", "undaunted", and "tempest" in flawless English, I just had to smile.
There are times when I wonder if it's okay for me to have this much fun.
Since I teach English conversation classes, all of my tests are 10 question interview tests. You run the gamut from "pretty good" to "well...he has been sleeping every class...the results speak for themselves". I think this time around, I did a better job of making my tests and conducting them. Last time...was not so good. This time...was okay.
One more test to do tomorrow, and we're done.
Test week means half days for all the students. Classes end right around noon, and most of the students head home. The school is nice and quiet. Today, we had a staff meeting regarding next year's curriculum.
I'm not going to go into specifics.
There are two reasons for this:
1) Confidential school stuff. Can't blab about it. Trade secrets and all.
2) I have NO CLUE WHATSOEVER what happened in that meeting.
Yep. Absolutely. Completely. Totally. Irrevocably. (I've always wanted to use the word "irrevocably". It's been a goal of mine.) LOST.
When that happens...
I sleep.
I think I did a pretty good job of fighting it off this time, but I can say with the utmost confidence that I have no idea why I was at that meeting. Out of the more than TWO FREAKING HOURS that the meeting required, I understood and actively participated in twenty minutes at most. The rest of the time was taken up by toothpicking my eyelids open and focusing on conversations where I understood the words but not the content.
Not that I didn't want to follow along, because I did. It seemed like what everyone was talking about was really important. I just didn't get it.
Well, my loft is calling me. I gotta go catch some Z's. G'night!
Oh yeah. I almost forgot. Go Seahawks! Nice "V" over Philly!

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