A Teacher Speaks Out – Testing

I saw this post on Teachers Net:

You know that you have trained your class to ignore
distractions well when someone throws up DURING state
testing and no one even flinches and continues with their

No lie!

My classroom!


Luckily he missed the book by an inch and hit the trashcan
which I had shoved in front of his face when I saw him
starting to turn green!

Nurse is right across the hall, off he goes, trashcan and all!

First question the principal asks me at the break is… did
anything hit the test book? Evidently there is some major
procedure involving fort knox and some security company
trained by the cia and fbi that needs to be followed when
someone barfs on the book!

32 thoughts on “A Teacher Speaks Out – Testing

  1. Wonder if the teacher is more concerned about the student or the book? It’s hard to tell.

    Or is the teacher disturbed at all by the behaviour of the rest of the class?

    Again, I get military images coming into my mind…..of the solder who faints on the parade ground and marching just continues.

    This is a very bad sign…these same kids will walk over a collapsed person on the street….


  2. I went to the original site and read the comments, mostly from teachers I presume…the issue that everyone is concerned about is the test booklet and the security of that test booklet.

    It’s worse than I thought.


  3. Psychmom – I thought that you were exaggerating.

    Sad – not one commenter expressed concern for the sick child.

    I will:
    I know that kids get sick often. But, it is still scary and embarassing to throw up at school. I hope the little one recovered and didn’t suffer any ongoing discomfort (emotional or otherwise) from having been sick during the all-important test.

    Teacher’s perspective: I know that so much of your career and success hinges on the all-important tests that it gets hard sometimes to remember the fragility of the young people whose lives you touch. Let’s try to change that so that you can get back into the business of doing the job that you had such a passion to get trained for – touching young people and helping them achieve their very best.


  4. I found the teacher comments extremely disturbing. When you posted this, Sara, I at first thought it was a tongue in check assault on the whole test industrial machine. Look what it does to kids, it makes some so anxious, they vomit! I thought the teacher was on the side of the child, big bad administration against lofty do good teacher. So much for that….

    Teacher shoved the trash can in front of the kid. Wince. Other teachers use the words puke and barf. The military analogies. The concern more over the test than the child. Well, that’s nothing new. We here have explored amply that in today’s public schools, children do come last.

    My confidence with teachers over the years has been steadily and badly shaken. This did not help.


  5. You know that you have trained your class to ignore
    distractions well when someone throws up DURING state
    testing and no one even flinches and continues with their


    This is supposed to be a good thing? That we have trained children to be apathetic and ucaring? Yes, teaching children to focus is a valuable thing. Eliminating distractions and staying on course is a noble cause. But at the expense of someone else’s suffering? This is chilling.

    It would have been a grand day had the kids stopped testing and tended to their ill classmate. Please let’s stop and watch what we teach. Facism doesn’t come in one big bang but in a thousand steps.


  6. Yeah, HWB, I try to imagine it…if the kids could have been at least grossed out, as kids are wont to do……at least they’d be feeling something and reacting.

    But to psychologically be so conditioned to pay attention only to the clock and the paper and to metaphorically step over this classmate and his suffering is chilling.


  7. Read the comments…..yikes! Interesting banter under “homework; to be or not to be.” Sorry don’t know how to import it.


  8. I found the homework post too and read the comments…I had no idea there were sensible teachers out there…I’m being facetious but really, the comments are very reasonable. They seem to accept that families have changed and if the kids are not doing the homework, there’s not a lot of sense to it..


  9. I began to read the previous post where the teacher said she felt sorry for the kid and his family because he has ADHD. As if ADHD was an unfortunate illness.Blech. So much for awareness and tolerance.

    As Edward Hallowell says, ADD is also a tremendous gift and that’s the model he aspires to (Delivered from Distraction). The first of three models was the moralizing one (remember the 1960’s and 70’s? We didn’t know about ADD so kids were told, you could be doing so much better, if you only tried. Then came the diagnosis and remediating weaknesses. You want to be that doctor, that balllplayer? Fuggedaboudit. The emphasis was (still is) on fixing the problem and the gifts get lost. To me, that’s what CHADD is all about.

    Hallowell calls for a new model, one that taps into the gift. I’m all for that last one! That so many brilliant people are distractable and why. We don’t want to eradicate it because there is so much gift, joy, energy, and talent in so much of it. It’s unwrapping that gift that is hard.

    I suppose this kid was giving the teacher grief but the whole post (I admit I could not get past the first sentence) smacks of pity and condescension. Not to mention ignorance.


  10. and an article called “Homework: Damned if you do, and if you don’t”:


    The article is mostly swill, but it contains one gem:

    It is mindless to have a formula for the amount of homework by grade level.

    Absolutely correct! So why are we constantly being given these mindless formulas as if they were handed down from Mount Sinai? Ten minutes per grade level, anyone?


  11. Ok, I take it back…that one group of postings about homework was just a fluke. What a relief..I thought for a moment that I would have to get off my horse.

    It’s classic but this happened to us this week. The teacher handed out novel study projects on Monday of this week…you know, those stressfree, supposed to be fun, end of book dioramas, puppet shows, posters, etc that are supposed to sum up the book. Children can work in pairs but “time will have to be arranged outside of class time”. The projects are due after March Break. March Break is next week. So the sheet with this information was at the bottom of the book bag yesterday (although I knew about it for awhile now) and nothing has been done on the project thus far. So if my family were boarding a plane to go to Florida for a week starting tomorrow…when exactly would this project get done? Grade 3…and the teacher is already letting parents know that family time is meaningless to them. A week off is a free week to do extra school work….
    We’re not going to Florida but I still feel that this project should not be expected to be done over the March break.


  12. PsychMom — what part of “break” don’t they understand?

    And how are the kids supposed to get together outside of class? These are young children! More work for Mom.

    Have you talked to the teacher about it?


  13. Hi FedUpMom..when I talked to the teacher about a week ago on another issue around novel study, she mentioned how the “project” would not be due til after March Break. My daughter and her friend could “get together to work on their project sometime during the March Break” she said.

    I said, “well, I guess we’ll have to do it before March Break because we’ll be away for March Break”. I knew we weren’t going for the whole week, but heck…it’s our time.

    There wasn’t a come back from the teacher. It’s all just so presumptuous.

    “But remember not to leave it to the last minute and complete your project the night before it’s due.” It’s the last line from the project outline. These are all fine expectations for a teenager, but not 8 year olds.

    Come on Mom’s! get your act together, in other words. It almost makes me want to go away tonight and not come back til next Sunday night.


  14. PsychMom — your break belongs to you.

    How about giving the teacher a copy of the Case Against Homework and telling her you’ll give her a quiz on the day after the break? Advise her helpfully not to leave it till the last minute.


  15. I love the way you think…unfortunately she’ll be gone by the time I get to the school to pick my kid up..
    And about the article on sad kids doing homework….I agree to the “Ugh” …I’d just like to add an “Eeeeewwwww” too.

    Members of my ilk (psychology) sometimes don’t help, so much.

    I watched my kid go from happy, talkative and energized to lethargic, sleepy and pissed in the space of 5 minutes the other night. I know she was extremely tired and sometimes I do these things just to prove a point to myself but she came home saying she needed to work on her novel study questions. So I suggested after supper that she try to just finish one she had started already. The above described progression in her demenour ensued. Oh, and I was a “mean mother” by the end of it. I think she was justified in saying so. I should have known better.


  16. I’ve just begun reading the homework thread. This response is reasonable:

    “What subject? Or all? I think some subjects need some homework, but not the amounts traditionally assigned. My only real homework is reading. They also need to complete in class assignments if not finished. Besides reading, all of the learning takes place in class, so I think it is important for students to be working in school. Plus we have a student population who sometimes cannot complete assignments.”

    Except I’m quite sure it’s “population which” not who. Oh, well, I make mistakes too.

    Man, what I would not have given to only have reading homework come home. Given that my daughter could spend all afternoon buried in a book, that would have been nirvana. I’m still wondering why the 5th and 6th grade teachers gave me such grief when I told them that what my daughter wants to do most when she comes home, more than anything else in the entire world, is to read classic literature and write novels.

    I’m still struck by the scorn that comment received. Why scorn? I was respectful. At the very least, why didn’t I at least hear, “My, that’s WONDERFUL that she reads and writes like that, without coaxing. But…” That would have been better than scorn. In private school, at least we didn’t get the scorn. Oh, well. It all amounted to the same thing. You must do what I say, not what you want. No matter how it’s coached.


  17. Psych Mom, this will be hard. But you can do it. Have a meeting. Bring Sara’s book along with Alfie’s as gifts to the teacher. (If your snarkey side is up, ask her to read it over spring break and report back to you). Tell the teacher you will be gone for all of break (doesn’t matter if you don’t, it’s your time, no questions asked) and your child will not be doing this assignment. Say it clearly and strongly and be as resolute and together as you can muster. You are not asking, you are telling. Do it with such confidence and poise, the teacher will be dumbstruck.

    Everyone here is so afraid to stand up to the teacher. Let her be more afraid of you for a change. People here are also so worried their kid will be ostracized and stand out. Let’s all not worry so much. Because if every A has a B, there will never be any progress. You just have to trust yourself on this and go for it.

    Try it, PsychMom. You can do it! Just state. And smile. Tell her you’ve spent years researching this and you’ve come to many significant conclusions. And then throw your zinger as your parting shot: your daughter LOVES to learn. She LOVES school. You want to keep it that way, you want to keep the spark alive. You have come to the firm conclusion that if she works all through break, it will lead to burnout and problems down the road. You don’t want to go there.

    If you are firm, in control, knowledgable without being condescending (I know you may like some of your teachers but they can be condescending to parents. Show her how you’d like to be treated ), she’ll have no reason to get defensive. But she’ll get defensive anyway. No matter, stand your ground.

    You’re not doing it.There will be no major “fun” project (if it’s such fun, tell her to do it) over vacation. Take it from me. We had too many breaks ruined over “fun” projects, why let it happen to you?

    Now you are done with your little speech. Stand up, smile, stretch out your hand and wish her a wonderful break. Tell her you are so excited about this special time with your daughter, all the cool educational things you have planned, and then turn around and walk out.

    Bravo! Award winning performance. Do it!


  18. Ah, but I’d have to leave work an hour early to catch her and I just can’t do that today…it being March Break, she’s probably leaving even earlier. School’s out at 3, I won’t get there til 4:45 at the earliest.


  19. HWB — you said “no matter how it’s coached”. That should be “couched”, meaning “phrased or expressed”. I think it’s related to another meaning of “couch”: to embroider a design by laying a thread on top of the fabric and fastening it with small stitches. See how that’s like framing and directing your argument? Cool, no?

    Back to our regularly scheduled discussion — PsychMom, just send the teacher an email explaining that you have a busy break planned and your daughter won’t have time for the “fun” assignment. If the project is useful, she can do it in school time. If it isn’t, why should she bother with it at all?

    Alternately, if you’re just sick of these ridiculous arguments, set a timer for 15 minutes and slam something together. What’s the teacher going to do, give it a low grade? Who gives a ******?


  20. E-mail …..mmmm…she doesn’t communicate by e-mail.

    My daughter loves to race…so we could set the timer and see who can make the most mouse-looking puppet in 15 minutes…then we’d have two. Problem solved. The Mouse (Ralph) and the Motorcycle. A Beverly Cleary classic. From a time when young children were still given aspirin and authors used brand names indiscriminantly. The boy in the book gets sick and his parents hunt down aspirin to give him. One of the questions my daugher had to answer this term was, “Do research on aspirin. Tell why it is helpful”. So how does an 8 year old research aspirin…and get past the idea that it’s not helpful to children, especially of the age of the child in the book????
    I gave her the answers. I mean…. seriously.


  21. PsychMom, your daughter can read it right off the aspirin bottle. Done and done.

    I like both suggestions. Still, I prefer the email stating you have no time but you’re happy to have your child do this “fun” project in class. Say that! How can she respond? We have no time in class. Well, you have no time at home. More likely (and I know you like this school) the teacher will give you an earful of why it’s important she does it at home. Yea, yea, yea. BTDT. No research to back up its benefits.

    When I had my daughter sleep in for a practice state test in 7th grade, the teacher hounded me. I told him she was going to take a writing course in the summer and I felt that was “practice” enough. He at first said it didn’t count. I found out he could not make my daughter stay after school (his suggestion) and I could request she not miss class instructional time for it. This went on for a while. And then he just gave up.

    I liked this teacher. I knew he was pressured from above. No matter. My child is not a sacrificial lamb. She goes to school to get an education, not to save some teacher’s hide.


  22. Come on you guys, you keep beating a dead horse.
    Just do what ever assignments you want to do, when you want or better yet don’t do any at all. Your kids will be grandparents before you can make a difference. Save your energy and play in the mud with your child with the extra time you’ll have. Stop play their game, you know better.
    PS: Send your dog to pick up your child’s report card, he already knows what to do with the homework.


  23. FedUpDad has a point. I respect the parent who posted earlier about going to the principal and making changes. But do we really need “better” homework? What’s that?

    Schools have already demonstrated they are doing this homework thing all wrong. Ignoring research, using the family as a dumping ground, taking care of themselves before they take care of you. Why trust them with “better” homework?


  24. Totally agree about “better homework.” Even if schools could be trusted to make this happen with some pushing, one parent’s idea of “good” HW may differ dramatically from another’s. An idea often stated here (and elsewhere) is that “homework assignments don’t challenge kids to think.” Hmm. Well, there could be research and essay assignments for 10-year-olds, say, that would definitely challenge them to think–but would also keep them up ’til midnight and burn them out. One kid might love this particular type of challenge and thrive, while another implodes. Okay, so how ’bout art/creative projects instead that demonstrate deep understanding of a concept? That’s cool for my 12 y.o. who loves to draw. Not so swell for his friend for whom art is torture.

    I think we should focus 90% of our energy on **volume.** Less is more. It is too MUCH hw that deprives kids of sleep, exercise, family time, reading for pleasure, friend time, pursuing passions (for those of you who are into that–I personally think it’s okay for a young kid not to have a “passion” yet, if that happens to be his or her situation)…and a modicum of control over what’s supposed to be their discretionary time. Not to sound extreme, but isn’t anyone worried we might be building a generation of unhealthy kids full of repressed anger & no real life skills? 😦

    Two hours of “good” homework is still way too much.


  25. I’m afraid Fed Up Dad is “singing” my song. He’s saying what my heart knows is true. Homework for a child my daughter’s age is just not necessary…

    We’re not doing the project and I’m sending a note to school to say that she won’t be kept in from recess over it either. It’s my decision. Oooh gosh it feels good to be an adult on this fine Monday morning.


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