I solemnly swear I am in a good mood.
|Picasso's "Crying Woman". Look like anyone you know?|
Testing time is upon us.
If you are new to teaching, or new to witnessing the, um, let's say stress (10 year old kids crying, kids needing medication for stress, kids refusing to get out of cars, kids asking to be put on prayer lists at church...yes, this is real) of elementary standardized testing, then BOYOBOY are you in for a fun month or two!
You are probably going to find that practically everyone in your building is walking around with PermaScowl and Eye Ball Roll. You will fully live the word"snarky". You will experience a stress level so high you can taste it.
Standardized testing is a BEATING. For everyone.
Here are some important things to remember:
*SMILE once a day. Even if it hurts. Even if it's to a Snickers bar. If you succeed, try to laugh at something non-snarky. Baby steps.
*Be a source of positive energy. Avoid toxic. Venting is one thing: we all need to vent. Spreading toxic negativity only adds to the terrible atmosphere in your school. Nobody's got time for that!
*OK...this one is super hard for me: don't take things personally. Remember, if people are irritable and cranky during this time, it is probably not about you. Or... it could be. Who knows?
*Remember why you became a teacher. It was NOT to administer small group tests. It was for the kids. It was for the love of teaching art to these kids.
*A friend sent this to me today. Take a second and read it, feel your soul grow. May is around the corner!
Back in 2006, a group of students at Xavier High School in New York City (one of whom, "JT," submitted this letter) were given an assignment by their English teacher, Ms. Lockwood, that was to test their persuasive writing skills: they were asked to write to their favourite author and ask him or her to visit the school. Five of those pupils chose Kurt Vonnegut. His thoughtful reply, seen below, was the only response the class received.
November 5, 2006
Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:
I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don't make public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.
What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what's inside you, to make your soul grow.
Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you're Count Dracula.
Here's an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don't do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, butrhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don't tell anybody what you're doing. Don't show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?
Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash receptacles. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what's inside you, and you have made your soul grow.
God bless you all!