Spring Break was exceptionally rejuvenating for me this year because I worked so hard and so long and travelled so many miles across the United States speaking, signing books and the such in the weeks prior to my time off from Lynwood that the first few days were a virtual collapse of the mind, body, and spirit. And while the alarm clock was kinda jarring today (first buzz at 5:17 am) I drove to school feeling excited. Things to do, books to read, minds to stretch, and so on.
And then I was hit with the worksheets.
State standardized tests are coming and I was literally given hundreds of pages of worksheets to prepare for the days and days of bubble tests coming up in May less than 8 minutes into my first day back on campus.
I immediately became despondent, angry and frustrated. (Pretty much morphing into the stereotypical demeanor of most teachers in our country today, right?)
Then I looked at the worksheets. (Much to my credit, mind you. Usually, I just dump them in a cabinet til the year is over with before looking for a recycling bin. After all, hundreds of pages of material as taken straight from the website of the State Dept. of Ed is rarely, if ever, something worth taking notice of. True tree killing to the worst degree. Come to think of it, our school photocopier must have been groaning for hours to get all the English teachers in our department sets of this mess. No rest for the weary, Mr. Machine. We gotz bubbles to serve!)
Anyway, I looked at the worksheets to see with an open eye what they were all about. And what did I see, mind you? Was I wrong? Was I falsely assuming a reality which was not there? Nope. I saw absolutely what I expected to see, that using worksheets to teach any sort of material in this day and age is simply a terrible approach to education. The state wants us to teach dialogue so Worksheet A has practice bubbles on discerning the tone, meaning and impact of dialogue.
Mr. Alan has kids actually speaking to one another in different tones and tongues in order for everyone to see, live, breathe, hear, feel and taste how dialogue truly can impact the meaning of text.
Do you know how fun it is to do this with a group of kids?
Can you please pass the salt?
CAN YOU PLEASE PASS THE SALT?
Can you PLEASE pass the salt?
Do all three mean the same thing? With teens, it’s way more exciting, real, practical and academically effective to teach the impact of dialogue my way — so into the cabinet went the worksheets and out came the real art of teaching.
And until they put me in a cabinet, that’s the way it’s gonna be.