Earthquake drill and "Reclaim Alaska"

Friday, March 28, 2014
I never fully appreciated the lengths at which the administration protected (with ferocity) the instructional time within the classroom.  This school year has made me grateful, more than I can even articulate, the professionalism demonstrated by colleagues in my previous schools.

Next week the students will be taking their standardized tests and high school exit exams.  This, in and of itself, not new at all.  In Texas it was the TAKS test, in Arizona the dreaded AIMS test and Terra Nova.  In Alaska, the underclassmen 7,8,9th grades take the SBA's (Standard Based Assessment).  This will attempt to demonstrate whether or not the students are on par with the other students around the state.  The sophomores take the HSGQE (High School General Qualifying Exam).  This exam differs from the SBA's in that, it determines if students have the bare minimum education in order to receive a diploma - far easier than the TAKS or the AIMS tests.

I consider myself an expert at helping students prepare for testing both by giving them review of content (reading and writing) and sharing tips that will help them with general test-taking as well as test-taking anxiety.  The time prior to AIMS and TAKS was precious - a final "push" to make sure we had done EVERYTHING possible to shore-up success in our students.  I always viewed this very similar to a football game at the end of the week - athletes practice during the week, give their best, get ready, and then on Friday show just how hard they've worked.

This week prior to testing next week we have been bombarded with "random crap" and I have just about hit my "random crap" allotment allowance for year.  Case in point.  This morning to commemorate the 1964 great Alaskan Earthquake, we spent 10 minutes today (technically only 3 minutes) practicing "duck and cover".  We were issued this in our mailboxes.

Our admin has zero spelling and grammar skills.

As I said before what was supposed to be 3 minutes turned into about 15-20.  The juniors (the class that I had during the earthquake "reenactment") took 3 minutes to discuss how stupid this is, another 3 to complain that they wouldn't fit under the desks, 3-4 laughing their heads off while they were under the desk and then another 15 to get settled after it was all done. {{Sigh}}.

Finally following all that in the morning, we had "Reclaim Alaska".  This is supposed to be a grassroots effort to curb the drug use on the island. *If I actually spent some time giving the drug use stats here jaws would DROP!  They have started this organization to discuss the problem - and at present, all that is being done is discussion.  The meetings are 2-3 hours long and time out of class.  The students even say "I know not to use drugs - we don't need group therapy for 3 hours to discuss it!"  They are so far beyond done with it.

Again, this is turned into a "wee bit of a rant" but I would like to know how to review and get my students ready for 4 days of testing, stress the importance of doing well, get their buy-in, when it is clear that the administration and community do not.



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