I have spent the last couple of weeks locked in an epic struggle with 13 angry, overaged fifth graders who have NEVER passed a state-mandated test in their lives, trying to get them ready for their second chance. In her infinite wisdom, my principal assigned me the baker’s dozen of our students who were the FARTHEST from meeting the passing standard. The first year teacher got the 18 who failed only one of the two tests, and/or didn’t miss by much. The lady who has already announced that she’s not coming back to our school next year? She got the couple of dozen who passed everything, and permission to do ANYTHING SHE LIKES. So they have loudly manufactured catapults and board games, while we across the hall sit around and hate everybody.
I’ve been trying to convince myself my assignment is actually a compliment to my expertise, but the boss was very clear that she’s not really counting on any of my group to pass on the second try. “Just don’t let them hurt anybody,” was the exact phrase she used.
Some days it has been a near thing. The assistant principal for discipline finally just brought his paperwork up and sat at my table for a couple of hours, looking up once in a while to scowl ferociously whenever the mutinous grumbling reached a crescendo. But we have also had a surprising number of laughs and AH HA moments!
“Okay, folks, I want the first grade teachers to come up here to see what we are doing. I want you to be loud. Read that passage out loud. Not together, just on your own. As loud as you can.” This when I realized hopelessly that 90 seconds after receiving a 3 page essay about the Conquistadors and the Aztecs, my snowballs were already answering questions! THEY LOVED THIS! They outdid each other reading at the top of their lungs. And then a beautiful thing happened. One of the fellas from my homeroom, who has probably not read three paragraphs of text all year, suddenly leaped up from his chair.
“Hey! Miss! That right there is the answer to one of the questions!” He shouted accusingly. “They just told us the answer!”
“Yes, they do that. Almost always if you read the thing, the answers to the questions are in there.”
“NO WAY! Can I read it again?!”
I had to sit down. I felt like I needed to lie down. I love my job.
He actually made a 100 on our last practice paper today.
Y’all pray for me and my snowballs. They take the tests again on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.