May used to be a good month to teach. The year would be winding down as my classes reached their final texts; the students would have, for the most part, mastered the skills I had been teaching all year; and seniors, although riddled with senioritis, would still manage to hang on in “cruise control” mode. Heck, I would be in “cruise control” myself. We would just sit back and enjoy our final literature choices, having deep discussions and fun projects that would enhance the learning beyond the basics.
This would lead into June with final wrap up activities and lessons, a look to next year, and preparation for final exams. Seniors would go to prom and most would come back, but all would be basically brain dead, so we’d talk about college and what they expect next year versus what the reality of college is.
Now, May is a complete waste of time with a mad rush to get everything done. The first two weeks of the month were the same as always: AP exams but little interruption otherwise. Then, this week, Two days of PARCC testing, Monday and Tuesday, during which more than two-thirds of the student population are just sitting in rooms for three hour study halls because they opted out of taking the exams. After the PARCC periods, the rest of the two days are a mess of scrambled classes, some of which don’t even meet until Wednesday now, which, for me, happens to be my weakest class.
Friday of this week is a day off returned for a snow day that was unused. I’m NOT complaining about having a four-day weekend, but because the weekend has been deemed a “wellness weekend” — a weekend for students and teachers to have more family time rather than worry about schoolwork — I cannot assign any homework, including reading chapters in my final text for my sophomores, which means I will have to assign a LARGE amount of pages to read before and after the weekend in order to complete the text by the final quarterly exam, which seems to belie the “wellness” part of the weekend.
Next week, Tuesday and Wednesday are disrupted again by the Biology “End of Course” exams. These take up two mornings and are only taken by students who take Biology, so all the rest of the school just comes in late for a truncated schedule AGAIN. Of course, this is right after the “wellness” Memorial Day weekend, so I will have classes that I won’t see until Wednesday that haven’t kept up with the text since the previous Thursday. Continuity of education? I don’t think so.
Then, suddenly, the week after that, is June, with only that week to finish everything before the quarterly exams the Tuesday and Wednesday after that, English is on Tuesday, June 9th. But school doesn’t end there. Somehow, we have to convince students that, despite taking their last exam, school is still in session until June 18th. The 16th and 17th are half days too, so not all classes will meet anyway, so any kind of project after the 10th to keep students busy somehow is wasted because there is no continuity of classes after the 15th. Which means, I have four full days and two half days AFTER my final exam before the year is actually over. What is even going to happen there? I have no idea.
My seniors will be completely checked out, so those classes are a complete waste. As it is they aren’t going to be around all that much since the prom is on June 4th and the majority of them won’t come back to school until the 10th anyway because of their prom weekend. So scratch them doing anything. Luckily, they’re a nice bunch of kids, so they won’t be too hard to handle. My sophomores aren’t complete morons and are going to know that anything done after the exam is essentially negligible, so they aren’t going to want to bother doing anything either, which will make them antsy for the summer. That’s where the classroom management problems start. Throw in a hot classroom and the recipe for chaos is complete.
But whatever, right? This is what the district administration and the Board of Ed have decided is best for the kids who live in the district, so who am I to argue with them? I actually teach less and proctor more. The students work less, but test more. This is what they want, and, since they are elected/hired by the local population, this is what the parents also want. Oh, unless they aren’t aware of what is going on…
I mean, all these people who live here are paying a lot of money in taxes to purchase all these tests that limit the classroom time of their children, so they must want to spend their money that way. Otherwise they wouldn’t elect this BoE or the various representatives that we have in our government like Christie and Garrett, right? I mean, last I checked, I thought my tax money was going toward EDUCATION, not TESTING. Maybe they should change the name of the section of the state budget.