Showing posts from February, 2013

Decatur Daredevils

When I was in fifth grade living in Northeast Philadelphia, I attended a pretty standard multi-level brick and cement elementary school called Stephen Decatur Elementary. We didn't have any fields, nor any big toys like swings or slides or a jungle gym and we didn't really have any playground equipment. Perhaps for some, this would mean we also didn't have any fun, but I didn't know any different and I'm sure most of my classmates didn't either.  From what I remember recess was the best time of day outside of PE and consisted mostly of running races and wall-ball with the boys, a little hopscotch and "Miss-Mary-Mack" with the girls, and overall lots and lots of tag-like games. It was the best.

But, I didn't always like Decatur. I started there in second grade and spent the first two months crying. Seriously, two months, ask my mom. Just like all of the other parents, my mom would walk me up to where my class lined up in the morning, and unlike any…

Three-Minute Fiction

NPR has a writing contest called Three-Minute Fiction. The idea is that you write a 600 word story, one that could be read in three minutes on air, responding to the prompt created by a published author. That same author then judges the submissions choosing a story to be read in its entirety on NPR. Awesome. The most recent contest required a monologue style story told by a character's words in a voicemail. Submissions were due a few weeks back and each weekend on All Things Considered they've announced a few honorable mentions, reading little snippets of the stories on air and publishing the full stories on the website.

I have never before entered any sort of writing contest and I'm genuinely proud of myself for simply making myself submit a story. However...a compulsion of sorts has taken over. I check the stupid website daily to see what stories have been selected (even though they only post the chosen stories on Saturdays and Sundays). So really, I'm not checking o…

Sunday Sorrows

Ah...the Sunday sorrows have begun to seep into certain members of the Anderson household (I won't name names). Once arrived, it is almost impossible to extract oneself from their negative pulldown amid an otherwise perfectly wonderful Sunday afternoon and evening.

I can't speak for everyone, nor are my sentiments reflective of every single Sunday, but this portion of my weekend is most often consumed by lesson planning-- and is not always exciting. Perhaps this particular onset of the sorrows is due to half of the state standardized tests occurring this upcoming week. Reading and writing are to be assessed and while the actual testing only effects about half of our students- it is very difficult to plan for my classes.

In theory, we are supposed to create lessons to hold those students not testing accountable, however, we are also not supposed to create lessons which would cause the students who are testing to miss anything "important". Wrap your mind around that on…

The Mural

You should know that I hated the painting from the first day I saw it.  Something inside me revolted-- driving me to cover it--to use the wall space for more reasonable, education inducing, literary propaganda.  However, the painting must have been forewarned of my coming, of its potential demise. It waged a war and gave me a choice, an ultimatum if you will. I could either continue on with my plan to paint over it knowing that by doing so I would most likely extinguish any chance of creating relationships with my students, or I could just let the idea go... allowing it to continue living. Either choice proved victorious for the painting, as I'm sure it was well aware.

The mural, painted by some unknown artist years prior, covers almost the entirety of one wall in my classroom. A secluded lagoon quietly rests surrounded by cliff walls and waterfalls plunging from varying heights and rocks jutting into the water and large, lush green trees. The painting is massive, and assuming, a…

What if...

What if our education system was designed completely different? What if students didn't have to "graduate", didn't have to attend a set amount of years? What if they didn't have to pass tests in core subjects to move on with their lives?

I've been teaching for nine years, not long enough to see the pendulum swing as so many of my senior teachers have described cyclically occurs in education. Instead, year after year, high stakes testing has progressively intensified. I don't even know what education looks like without these tests. My students don't know what education is like without these tests.

I don't even believe "these tests" do everything they are supposedly designed to do.

They are supposed to ensure that no students are slipping through the cracks. They are supposed to ensure that teachers are instructing effectively. They are supposed to ensure that entire schools and districts are functioning under equal expectations across our…

Breaking Fast

Yesterday was a close call. For some reason the idea of margaritas danced around my thoughts. I considered the opportunity. I imagined the taste...the experience...the effect and ultimately decided yesterday was going to be the day. We were going to go to Nando's. I was going to order an appetizer of queso dip. I was going to order rice and beans as my meal and I was going to have one two margaritas. I have not drank for six months and I'm bored of it. I'm tired of automatically being the driver. I'm tired of sitting with people as they become intoxicated and having to act as if they aren't drunk. I'm tired of being ready for bed at 9:00 when out with friends.

None of this ever bothers me if I TOO am drinking.

Except fate, that tricky little sucker of good times, decided I already had plans which did not include margaritas from Nando's. My plan was foiled and I had to think "was something stepping in to help keep me strong"...perhaps.

Or maybe, an…