It's only Tuesday, though it feels like I have been here at last 5 days already. I'm ready for Friday teacher nachos get-together NOW. It's MCAS week.
My official duty is in the hallway.
It's 9 AM. Students walk by me in the hallway with glazed-over eyes and shuffling feet. Boredom radiates from their bodies. As I monitor the hallway, the line for the boys's bathroom gets longer, now 5 restless boys waiting, cracking their knuckles, swinging their arms, and stretching. They can't go into the bathroom together - we have to make them go in one at a time. They might cheat in there, after all.
Teachers sit at either corner of this hallway, laptops out, trying to get some work done in this atmosphere of quiet and seriousness. I sit right in between them, unable to focus on any school work. Other teachers sit inside their classrooms, proctoring the test, 25 bodies hunched over their desks, filling in tiny circles and calculating in their heads.
At 10 AM, after 2 hours of intense test-taking, the actual school day begins. With a shortened schedule, but all classes meeting, the day feels endless. At first, my students arrive to the first class after MCAS subdued. They are tired from not only taking this test, but taking it in a language that isn't theirs. We go slowly in A period social studies, practicing the locations of European countries.
I see the same students about 3 hours later. They are antsy and silly. One of them literally cannot stop giggling. Focusing and settling down takes twice as long as it usually does. When they finally do settle down, and are ready to start our reading for today in oral communication, we have only 25 minutes of class left. One student reminds me of this. Every 5 minutes.
When the dismissal bell rings at the end of the day, the heat and noise in the hallway have both risen. It suddenly is very warm outside, and our building has not changed from heating to cooling yet. The building is stifling. The kids' energy somehow has come back after their testing, and now they are getting feisty and too energetic for school.
I think about all the energy these kids spent on MCAS - preparing for it in class and taking it. Time lost in between MCAS days because of student burnout. All the class time lost I still fail to understand why THIS is better than discussing, learning, exploring, reading, and actually doing school.
Hang in there, teachers.