Games APS Teachers Can Play During Testing

Not much time this morning before heading off on the bike to school a bit early.  Need to show up early so I can pick up the Infamous Cardboard Box of Testing Crap (ICBTC), and make sure everything is in order to start our Annual Tap dance to Accountability (ATdA to AYP) this morning.

I don’t know where fellow teachers are in the testing process, but at my little fray in the academic carpet we’re starting today.  Oh goody. An exciting time for teachers full of ICBTC, sharpening pencils, walking around sternly saying “this is important, honest!”, and trying to avoid what any red-blooded human in the 21st Century would do when faced with long periods of test proctoring boredom:  ‘Net surfing.

Yeah, there are rules for this here testing thing, and for teachers the biggest one is probably NO Internet Surfing.  A silly rule, and one neatly evaded by the fact our attendance is now online. “Oh, I need to do attendance”, the teacher will loudly and without guilt announce.  “Just doing my job here.”  And despite the fact we often test kids who aren’t even on our attendance sheet we will both “take attendance” and “take an hour to take attendance”.  Funny how that works.

Even funnier are the rules for the victims actually taking the tests.  As has been noted plenty of places, these stupid rules have included over the year things like “students may not quietly draw when finished with a test section early”.  Really.  Honest.  This year my school is cracking down on “talking when done with the test, even when the entire class is done”.  So, as a teacher o’ Gifted, my class will spend, on average, thirteen minutes completing a section of the test, followed by fifty-eight minutes of “Silent Sustained Reading” en masse. Times roughly ten test sections that about 600 minutes of “SSR”.  All with me saying “shhh” and “Quiet, really I mean it”.  Fun, fun, fun.

So the shocking news here is not terribly shocking:  standardized testing is boring as Hell for everyone involved.  But at least students get little “gotcha” questions to answer supposedly proving their “proficiency”.  Teachers get nothing.  What can we do between all the cardboard-box toting, pencil sharpening  and “shhh”?

We’re lucky in a way this year, we teachers, in that there’s a little mental game we can all play while the testing ennui drones on.  I call it “Let’s Play Butcher!”.  Here’s how it works.

  • Take your current school staff, including all the teachers, admin, “ancillary” folks, strange employees who you have no idea what it is they do, cops, rent-a-cops, etc.;
  • Figure out which of these people could and should be part of a budget cutback;
  • Imagine the school in School Year 2010-2011 without these people;
  • Imagine little dream-like scenarios in which only fellow staff members you despise are cut;
  • Imagine a scene in which the Principal comes to you and says:  “I’m supposed to cut a bunch of people, but I just can’t figure out who should be gone.  Could you tell me who to cut?”
  • Dwell a bit more expansively on entire courses, and/or subject matter that should/could be cut throughout the District (E.g., declare a mental jihad on “Social Studies”).

A few games of “Let’s Play Butcher!” should nicely fill in some of the time spent staring at students deciding which testing bubble to “completely circle, heavy and dark with a number two pencil”.  And speaking of games, I’m planning to put up a little Survey Monkey survey later today/tomorrow that will give the two or three readers of Burque Babble a chance to chime in slightly more formally, on how they would play APS butcher.  Look for that sometime in the next 24 hours or so.


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