Unbagging the Cats 1

Unbagging the Cats 1

Monday, April 2, 2012

One Can't Handle the Truth

I had to stay after school today. No, I wasn't caught being bad. I had my regular weekly parking lot duty. Then a monthly faculty meeting. Then an additional, tacked-on meeting for test-givers for the upcoming EOC season. If you're a high school teacher in Missouri, you'll know what I'm talking about.

So...you can imagine the excitement that permeated the library after the non-EOC-giving teachers were released. It was downright palpable, I tell you. And pulsating. I'm surprised the books didn't unshelve themselves like those of the New York Public Library in the opening scene of Ghostbusters.

It was a grand production. Projector. PowerPoint. Audio message. All standardized for distribution around the state. We had to sign off that we attended and were prepared. Paper materials that were distributed must be turned in at the end of our testing window, to be shredded. No giggling. No note-writing. No texting. No paper-grading. We dutifully watched black words on a white screen while a disembodied voice read to us. NOW I understand how a bedtime story puts kids to sleep.

Near the end, the steady drone of the oddly-sibilant narrator was spontaneously joined by another voice. Not human. The chirping of a cricket was distinctly heard by all. It lasted no more than fifteen seconds. We glanced around at each others' studious, upturned faces, lit only by the reflection of the projector screen.

One of my regular lunch companions was the first to crack. Not merely a grin. A wink. A knowing, Mona Lisa smile. Nope. She did a dry spit take, followed by a hearty, "Bwah, ha, ha!" And, in case nobody noticed, she bellowed, "I heard a CRICKET! Was that on the tape, or was that a REAL cricket?" We commiserated. Sure sounded real. But we didn't want to be the ones to bring it to the attention of our Grand Poobah of Testing.

He did not know, either.

Truth. It's stranger than fiction.


Stephen Hayes said...

Aren't crickets signs of good luck?

Sioux said...

Poor clueless, delusional Stephen, thinking that a cricket is the harbinger of good luck. Because there ain't no such thing as good luck in the state of Missouri (when it comes to the MAP).

Stephen, this year, we're supposed to increase (like every year) the percentage of our students who are proficient/advanced. Next year, it will be up to 100%. Certainly, that is obtainable--even my students who are profoundly ID (mentally retarded) can do it. True, they cannot even add 13 + 8 in class but when they are handed the 94 page MAP test booklet (that's how long it was last year in third grade), because of the magic of MAP--shazzam!--they will be able to determine the perimeter of a 10-sided, odd-shaped figure.

Aaah, Stephen. The cricket was just making a parting sound before it killed itself.

irishoma said...

Val and Sioux and all other Teachers wo are overworked and underpaid:
If you could translate my respect and admiration for what you do into money, you would be rich, indeed.

Leenie said...

Yes, but the small singing severed the spontaneously steady drone of the oddly-sibilant scholar.

Squeak, squeak, squeak!

Linda O'Connell said...

It takes one cricket to make a test giver crack.

Val said...

Not the ones in my bathtub. In fact, they are a sign of their own BAD luck. They don't escape alive. I HATE crickets. Spiders and mice are more welcome. Only the creepy millipede ranks lower than the lowly cricket on my home-invading-critter tolerance level.

Not that my home is crawling with vermin...but this IS the country. And my house is not hermetically sealed. About once a year, we get a bathtub cricket. Of course he can't keep quiet, and sounds his own death warrant.

Funny how we are expected to work miracles. My high school students have an online, multiple-choice test of 47 questions. Only 35 are scored, the others being pilot questions for future tests. They don't know which is which. So...three years of science learning, from earth science to physics to chemistry to biology...boils down to 35 questions.

Next year will herald the return of the performance event, in addition to the 47 questions. My students always did better on that one. It brought up their scores when averaged. So now I have to redesign all the multiple choice tests I've used for the past four years to include performance event types of questions. I wouldn't want to become complacent like a math teacher, able to use the same lesson plans for 25 years.

We've been validated! Thank you so much. Evan though we blather and blow off steam...it's a job you have to love, or you can't keep doing it year after year.

You have a future in audio materials with the Missouri Public School Propaganda Department.

Here's a blurb for your many published works: Linda O'Connell is the new Confucius. You can quote me.

Josh Hoyt said...

Yes teachers are overworked and under-payed but they like it right? I mean they must enjoy wiping noses comforting crying children teaching kids who don't really want to be there. Making sure that those who are above curriculum excel even further and those who can't understand the material to feel good about themselves and succeed in their own right. And with all this they are constantly told they must do more and work harder. There jobs are on the line and they are told "those who can't do teach" Yes they must love their jobs. I have such an admiration for teachers that is the reason I want to be a school psychologist hopefully to give as much support to teachers and kids as possible. Thanks to all you teachers you are the best!!

Leenie said...

To Josh Hoyt--you've nailed it. Hooray for you and all teachers everywhere. When I rule the world you will be paid much, much more and the people who take our tax dollars away from you will be paid much less.

Val said...

It has limited appeal. And then there's the bonus of a captive audience for practicing stand-up comedy routines. But the drawbacks include being a small-town celebrity who must live life on a pedestal not of one's choosing.

Thanks for your thanks!

Please get on with ruling the world.

Teachers Everywhere