Thursday, May 07, 2009

school days

So we wrapped up 2 weeks of evil CST testing this morning. It's made particularly painful by the fact that there are ZERO special arrangements available for English learners, even for the newcomer students whose class is normally bilingual, so I have to watch my kids struggle. Literally, it could be a student's first day in the country and they would be required to test, and to test in English only. Meanwhile as a proctor the state bestows upon me the vast power to hand out extra pencils and tissue and remind kids to fill in that bubble fully. Then the rest of the day the kids are cranky and restless. Fun fun fun for all. Really it hasn't really been as bad as I expected, second graders are still chock full of optimism and claim they enjoy the testing. (Quoth one persuasive essay arguing pro on the issue: Should Children Take the CST Test? - "Because [sic] where big kids now. Where not in kindergarten anymore. We get [sic] prise after.") And the pressure in our school is not so bad, while other schools have to worry about drastic No Child Left Behind consequences, Lincoln is one of the few select schools in Oakland that regularly wins NCLB awards.

I have 7 classes every day, and in any given week, about 3-4 of them will cancel. This is fantastic because it gives me built in planning time so that I never have to stay past school hours, which makes my .8 prorated salary feel much more reasonable. Today, in another sign of the times as the school coasts towards the end of the year, I ended up with a full THREE HOURS with nothing to do in the middle of the day. Where is this, Jezreel? I had enough time to make an unusually detailed example of a drawing project for my last class (quoth another student: "I don't think you draw that! I see you draw before, just put stick arms and legs..."), take a walk by the lake, read a short book and start another. This brings me to the latest episodes of Rebecca Reads at School. Watch and learn as Rebecca is interrupted by Goofus and Gallant.

Goofus: Scenario... last week Rebecca is reading at lunch when Annoying Subcontracted ESL Teacher plops down in the seat across from her.
ASESLT: Hi! Have you ever been having a bad day and then have someone come up to you and unexpectedly give you a compliment?
Rebecca: Um, I guess so...
Rebecca wonders if ASESLT is trying to segue into giving her a compliment? That would be surprisingly... unannoying. Rather, ASESLT launches into recounting several stories in which the universe converged and people gave HER compliments over the last few days. Wouldn't you know it, strangers think she's pretty and sophisticated, old men hit on her. Her self-esteem visually plumps up as the minutes tick by. Eventually it dawns on Rebecca that she appears to be FISHING for ANOTHER compliment. Wow. Who DOES that? Good thing Rebecca already can't stand her and is starting to take secret pleasure in compiling episodes of reader persecution.

Gallant: Scenario... later that same day Rebecca is reading outside during a break when Favorite Second Grade Teacher passes by.
FSGT: What a nice day! It must be so relaxing to read outside.
R: Yeah, finally some nice weather! I'm just soaking up a little sun.
FSGT: I should start bringing a book, that's a great idea. Enjoy!
Rebecca returns to reading, feeling like there is good in the world.

Goofus, Take 2: Scenario... Rebecca is reading during her extended break today while trying to tune out ASESLT mismanaging her class in the same room. Very Nice but Limited English Stafflady is eating lunch and kind of staring at Rebecca from a few seats over. Finally she moves over and touches R's arm. (R is wearing short sleeves for the first time in a while.)
VNLES: I just notice today, you have very white skin! So pretty! Just like Snow White!
R: (Did she just... Snow WHITE??) Oh, wow, I don't know about that, but thanks!
VNLES: In Hong Kong all the girls want white skin, you are so lucky! It is so beautiful with a nice dress... (sighs wistfully...)
Ensue awkward conversation in which R tries to gracefully accept a compliment while dismissing cultural beauty stereotypes...

Gallant, Take 2: Scenario... FSGT to the rescue again! Rebecca has fled ASESLT and VNLES and is reading in the hallway. (Life of Pi)
FSGT: Oh is that good?
R: Yeah, actually it's great! I just started it but so far it's really quirky and well written and grabbing my attention.
FSGT: People are always recommending it to me, but it never seems like my kind of book.
R: I know, me too! I mean, a boy, a tiger, meh... but it was on top of my pile today.
FSGT: Exactly... but it's worth reading?
R: Definitely, so far I approve. I'll let you know what I think when I'm done.
R wants SO to be a student in Ms. FSGT's class!

I hope you've enjoyed this very special lesson on the etiquette of interrupting readers. Coming up in the special school series... R's return to higher education in classic style, and second grade artwork.


  1. Hilarious anecdotes of reading-interruption. Especially the white skin one. I remember in my early days as a Nu Skin Distributor being shocked when they brought out a "Skin Whitener" product. (Wait - doesn't everybody in the US want to get a TAN?) Turns out it was a huge seller in Japan, Thailand, China, and Asia. So yes, you are a cultural goddess to them. Think what it would be like if you had blond hair!

  2. i love this entry. check plus plus plus. would read again.

  3. Glad my suffering is not in vain. You're in luck as I have a feeling there will be no shortage of material on this front.

    Yeah, having people marvel at my white skin is fairly creepy on a number of levels, but at least it's a change of pace from the Italians all calling me "bionda" and the Ecuadorian fixation with my "ojos tan bonitos..."

  4. Another amusing white skin anecdote: years ago your Uncle David was on a plane leaving El Paso and seated next to a local with leathery, very tanned skin and wearing a cowboy hat. Looking at pale skinned David, the first thing he said was "work indoors, do ya?"

  5. "ojos tan bonitos..."

    I don't think they look at al like fish.

  6. oh man this entry rules. i'd like to compliment your realistic representation of your own dialogue.

  7. oh one more thing. i thought "sic" was supposed to go after the error. but i assume you are right. so if anyone tries to correct me from now on i will blame you.

  8. Damn, N, you're totally right! That's what I get for trying to be totally pretentious.