Monthly Archives: June 2011

My Rage Against Grading (How Can We Rate What’s Beautiful)

Needing a respite from the relentless grading that occurs at this time of year, I thought I would share something I read this morning with you. After I have finished grading state standardized exams and local benchmark exams I finally get the chance to look at the projects my own students have submitted at the end of the year. My seventh graders have been experimenting with poetry. Many of them loath it, especially at first, but slowly and eventually many of them create something beautiful. Here is one of the poems that I read this morning.

I gave you everything I had.
I loved you, I held you when you were sad.
Like sisters, you and me.
I was the beach and you were the sea.
And after all these years
You left me in tears.
I thought you were my best friend.
That you would be there ’til the end.
I believed and trusted you
And all that you said.
You were everything to me.
But then you tossed me out.
Like a teenager getting rid of you favorite childhood toy.
I need you, I need you, I need you.
And I need you now more than ever.
I need you to tell me to do my homework and to watch my language.
I need you to talk to me and love me like we used to.
I have everything you gave me.
All the birthday cards, the postcard from greece, the shirt.
I hold them on my pillow at night and talk to them.
Like I used to talk to you.
Waiting for an answer, waiting for you to hug me,
To tell me everything’s okay.
That you’ll take me back forever and always.
My angel, I need you to tell me those things.
But you never will.
I gave you all I had . . . And I always will.

I honestly got a little misty when I read that. I thought it was too good to be original so I googled it to check and it seems to be an original. My existential question is how do I now assign a number to this work of art that means anything? While her classmates are writing about Xbox cheat codes, she has gotten it. She has created something truly beautiful and assigning it a grade, even a 100 diminishes it somehow. I want to meet with her and nurture this talent, tell her that I appreciate the way she has put words together and suggest other poets she might like. But I am certain she will want to know what she got on it. What have we done?


Help Me With My Parent Outreach Program

I need help. I really want to begin a parental outreach program at my school to increase the amount of positive parental involvement. At the moment I feel that parental involvement is merely paid lip service. I don’t want to waste time blaming the system or the individuals that make it up, only to make it better. The problem with most of the parental outreach I have experienced is that it is kind of like bad professional development, someone has a great idea that has a positive impact for a limited time but then it is not sustained or follow up on. Something like a community picnic is a great idea to get parents to the school once, but what do you do once they are there and how do you keep them coming back? Has anyone implemented a parental outreach program in their school? Do you have any ideas to help me get started? I hope to work on this program over the summer and begin it when the new school year begins in September. Thanks in advance for any help.

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