Spring Break is coming soon, and with that is the spring DCA’s (District Common Assessments). There are 3 of them, math, language arts, and writing. We’re taking all three this week. I try to spread them out some, as to not overload the students. But while they are taking the test, I find I have some extra time, which is always nice.
While they are busy, I can get some things done, like correcting papers. Papers that I need to use for their grades are usually checked by a volunteer parent (I have about 6 of them that I can send work home to be corrected) or checked in class. Then I put percentages on them and enter those percentages into my grade book (I use Microsoft Excel). A lot of papers I just need to look at and mark to let them (the parents) know that I’ve seen it. Then those papers, as well as the ones I’ve used for grades, go into the basket at the back of the room. From there, they are put into each students cubby, by me or student volunteers (a favorite classroom job).
But while they are working quietly on their tests, I do have a few minutes to glance at the headline news on my lap top. Don’t tell anyone, but I can check the hockey standing (not that it matters for the Ducks these days) and see what the Lakers are up to. It’s also a good time to straiten up my room, but that usually involves correcting/checking papers (see above).
I have to confess, I love when the class is testing. It’s nice and quiet, and I can get things done. To bad they can’t test every day.
Here we go. It’s that time of year again.
People from our district are coming out to our school to observe us. And by us, I mean the teachers. They want to make sure we are using best practices while teaching. And by best practices, I mean TAPPPLE. I can’t remember everything TAPPPLE stands for, (and maybe I should, seeing as that’s what they want to see), but I know that they really want to see a lot of checking for understanding (that means pulling sticks randomly to call on students to answer questions, and having the class use white boards to respond to questions) and corrective feedback (helping them get the right answer if they don’t know it, and clarifying answers that are only partly correct).
Blah, blah, blah!
Just a bunch of hoops to jump through. Get your classroom spotless, your boards up to date. God forbid your focus wall isn’t current!
They come in, watch for about5 – 8 minutes, then leave. Ten minutes later they come back and watch again. Then leave for a while, then come back for a while. It’s all over in an hour.
Then there’s nothing to worry about until I’m observed by my principal next year.
It’s a daily struggle. You can’t forget about them. You have to stay on top of them. Pencils. If you don’t pay attention to them, you’ll end up with 12 broken ones. You’ve got to make sure they are sharpened before the school day starts. Every time I’m in the work room, I need to bring at least a few back to the room with me.
Students are supposed to trade a dull one in for a sharp one. But some times they don’t. So my stash of 20 or so sharpened pencils dwindles as the day goes by. On a good day, I end up with about 20 broken or dull pencils, and about 3 sharpened one. But I rarely get good days. On an average day I’ll end up with about 10 broken or dull ones. None sharpened. Some days I’ll sharpen a few when I have some extra time. My goal is to go the entire day and have enough sharpened pencils to make it through the day without me having to sharpen any. That seldom happens.
I do have 2 sharpeners in my room. The electric one was one a student gave me last year. It WAS pretty good. But now it is really loud, and doesn’t sharpen so well. I have a hand-crank one, too. It WAS super good. But now it doesn’t sharpen most of the pencils very well. So to sharpen my pencils I go down the hallway to a good sharpener they have down there. When I’m lucky a coupld students will come by before school and sharpen them for me. But I never know if and when they’ll come, so I wait. If their not sharpened by 8:30, I go down and do it myself (we start at 8:45).