May peace and prosperity thrive in the Great Lakes Region of east Africa.
We have been testing this week. As you can see from the schedule below, we test a lot.
As the week began, I was annoyed because I was asked to proctor during my “planning“** time. [**Planning time is spent responding to parent emails, writing narratives for counselors, loading/unloading kilns, documenting and grading student work, completing student-information reports for suspension hearings or the honor council, fixing broken equipment and trying to unclog whatever it is that students put down the drains of my sinks. Preparing information and planning for classes takes place during evenings and weekends.] I am fortunate enough to make all the proctoring lists when many of my colleagues seem to always be forgotten. I arrived at my testing site, the gym, by 7:10 that morning and helped a few other teachers by logging on to the computers so students could begin their test immediately. At each row of tables there were 20 laptops. There were 16 rows of those tables arranged in each of the 2 columns. I was in one of four testing locations at our school that morning. After an hour and a half of trouble-shooting tech problems, reassigning students to new computers, passing out paper, pencils, tissues and generally staring at already-self-conscious teenagers taking tests…my replacement proctor never arrived.
Later in the day, I discovered one of my AP ceramics students had a work stolen the day I was away. Based upon observations of students rummaging through her storage space during class (in a room that is locked all other periods) the suspects have been narrowed down to two. We are hoping ‘lost work’ posters, announcements to each class about the missing work, calm explanations of various ways the work can be returned anonymously and threats of locking up every item in the room should the piece not show up, will encourage the return of the missing ceramic bowl. My students may be lazy and entitled but they are not thieves— everyone and everything used to be safe. I am getting increasingly doubtful as time passes and dread the day the students will have to be pulled for questioning if the work is not returned. Especially since I receive adamant emails from the main suspect that she never saw the work and doesn’t have it. Especially since the main suspect has a long history of mental illness and depression. Especially since, no matter what happens, these young women have to share the same classroom until mid-June.
Another test this week was the unexpected news that a beloved colleague passed away suddenly. We worked together for three years and shared a classroom. I helped him learn the curriculum and get organized and he helped me to “lighten up” and be more flexible. He always made me laugh. He was playful and genuine and had an open heart. He was one of the most creative men I have ever known. The news of his death, just like the news of students passing, was completely unexpected and delivered in a now-too-common way: via work email among a large distribution list.
Everyone has a phone but no one seems to remember how to use one.
There have been many tests this week and I really hate testing.
I took my first trip to Minnesota this weekend to attend a conference held on the campuses of Augsburg College and the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. I was impressed with the diversity, openness of the communities, friendly people, support of the Arts and I was happy to see the remnants of winter weather which I have been missing the past two years.
The National Flower of Sri Lanka: a Nil Manel or Blue Water Lily