Have you ever read "Oh! The Places You'll Go!" by Dr. Suess? Do you remember the waiting place?
That's where I spent my day today.
Middle schoolers are not particularly patient people in general. Some of them at my school (the ones taking high school credit courses) are now on their fifth school day in a row of intensive, hours-long testing, with two more yet to go.
It would be hard on anyone, but it's especially hard on 12-14 year old people full of hormones and energy. With each successive day, it becomes harder for them to cooperate and harder for us teachers to help them cooperate.
I didn't see all of these today. But all this waiting, with no supplies, leads to some creative self entertainment:
- Writing acrostic poems on scratch paper
- Dismantling a pencil. Entirely. Leaving a piece of lead intact and the casing of the pencil cracked in pieces next to the eraser. All the more impressive given that no tools were used.
- Designing elaborate mazes using graph paper
- Measuring one's own arm in thumb lengths
- Closing the drawstring of the hood so tightly that only the mouth and bottom of the nose can be seen and going into a defensive sleep
- Rediscovering all the words that can be spelled on a calculator held upside down
- Picking their fingernails, pimples, and G-d forbid, their noses
- Inventing new ways to tie shoes
- Removing all the embroidery from a pair of socks with the fingernails
- Drawing a map of Panem with annotations
- Inventing of a new pattern of braiding for one's own hair
- Folding oneself into pretzel-like shapes in a chair
It was a little better for me, myself, today, at least in terms of boredom. I had a read-aloud group. It's a test modification often given to students reading below grade level or who have limited English proficiency, wherein the test administrator reads the questions aloud to the students. The idea is that we are trying to test a student's math knowledge, not his or her reading (we had the test over that yesterday), so we remove that obstacle by reading the test to the child. So, at least I had something to do.
Reading a math test aloud is challenging for a math-phobe like myself, though. When I found out I would be doing so, I went and asked a math teacher for some pointers on how to read some things aloud. I was glad I did.
Whew! Talk about a foreign language! After all, I'm the one who tells the students who want to calculate their grades on the spot: No hablo matemáticas. But we made it through. We are tougher than the test. I just wish we didn't have to be.