Tests and hugs

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Having lost much of the last week to one standardized test, I lost this afternoon to another standardized test. A few students will lose a portion of Monday. Absences will not save them.

My colleague from yesterday seemed much more cheerful. On the other hand, I found another member of another of my teams to hug this morning. I spent my extremely precious “planning” time minutes (possible total of maybe 25 today if I had not decided to help yet another colleague) reassuring this experienced and very capable teacher that everything was going to be OK. We went over strategies that might get my colleague one more year in the system before “retiring” early since that extra year will be financially advantageous — one more early retirement if retirement is the right word. I’m not sure it is. In another less crazy time, this woman might easily have put in another decade in the classroom. She’s very knowledgeable and she loves teaching and her students.

She’s not even sure about next year. The stress is making her cry. She’s beginning to fear for her health. I suggested some strategies, but also said that health comes first. Quit if you need to quit, I said, pointing out she could probably sell textbooks.

Eduhonesty: Today’s colleague crisis has nothing to do with teaching. As I noted, this teacher loves teaching. The crisis is all about demands for data, requiring full evenings to be devoted to spreadsheet creation rather than lesson preparation, endless testing that interrupts and compromises teaching, evaluations that are based on student enthusiasm in a district of poor and broken families where student enthusiasm may be diminished by lack of food, housing and hope. If an exhausted student puts his head down to sleep during class, a critical evaluation may be lowered unless the teacher can promptly wake him up in a cheery and academically receptive mood. But if that student got no sleep the night before, as can happen when 10 family members are stuffed into a two-bedroom apartment, sometimes that cheery awakening simply may not be in the cards.