Some Januarys are more challenging than others. So far January 2018 has been quite challenging. We returned from Christmas break on January 3. Our first “week” back consisted of two days that began with two-hour delays and a cancellation on Friday. The next week was supposed to start on Monday, however school was cancelled again. As I’m writing this it’s January 11, Thursday of our second “week,” and right now there is a weather system poised to pounce and I am uncertain as to whether or not we will be in session tomorrow. I have rearranged so many lessons, that right now I have more arrows in my lesson plan book than Robin Hood had in his quiver…. Did you miss me? It is now Saturday, January 13, and obviously the weather system pounced.
After writing the above, I found myself suffering from writer’s block and decided that a good night’s sleep would help, so I saved my work and went home. Now as any teacher can tell you, normally the surest way to jinx a snow day is to leave something important undone. So I left secure in the knowledge that we would be in session the following day. Well allow me to paraphrase, so much for the plans of mice and men, or in this case, teachers. Just some more arrows in my quiver!
If the weather wasn’t causing enough chaos, technology has once again reared its ugly head, or to be more accurate, the computer techs have done it again. (Yes, this is going to be another one of my “Technology—Grrrrr!” stories.) At our school we use an online reading program to help meet individual needs. There is always a range of reading abilities in every class, and even more so in a combined classroom such as mine. The online reading program provides a means for students to read books at their level and take tests. The students work independently. The second week we were back at school, one of the librarians asked me how to delete test results. Now before you get too excited, I am not blowing the whistle on a testing scandal here at St. Mary’s. As I mentioned, the students read and test independently which means occasionally (who am I kidding?…lots of times) students will “mis-take” a test.
Siblings whose first names begin with the same letter, can accidentally take a test in their sibling’s account, which is why an eighth grader suddenly has “Hop on Pop” in his list of tests taken. Sometimes a child will inadvertently turn on the Spanish language function or just type in the wrong quiz number. Once a test is entered, there is no turning back and one simply presses buttons until the test is over, and asks to have the test deleted. When my first graders fail a test, I allow them to reread the book and retest.
So back to the story, of course I know how to delete tests. I went into the library to show her how to do it, and found out that the program had become unrecognizable. Instead of drop down menus there was a series of little pictures. Obviously this was going to take more time and lunch was over and I needed to get back to class. The children were already lining up at the door.
Later that afternoon the children as recopying their second quarter writing samples, I decided to see if I could find the page I needed. I was sure that the changes were mostly cosmetic and that if I looked, I could find what I needed. Yeah, right. After school, I went to our “go to” person for the reading program, Mrs. Pierri. I knew she would know how to access the information. Well, it seems that when the computer techs decided to “enhance” the program, they accidently enhanced the portion of the program that allows teachers to view individual student’s quiz results and delete tests, right out of the program. They are working on fixing the problem. Yep, it’s going to be an interesting month.
The quarter was supposed to end last Friday, however due to the weather, it will be extended to Wednesday, the 17th. Practice for the spring musical, under the direction of Tim Nealeigh, is underway. Catholic Schools Week begins the last week of January. Students will be participating at the weekend Masses on January 27 and 28. The “cherub choir” will sing at the 10:30 Mass on the 28th.
Finally, it is with great sadness that I report the death of Ken McCoy, husband of Brenda McCoy who teaches fifth through eighth graders at St. Mary’s. He fell ill before Christmas and passed away January 11. Our deepest sympathy goes out to Brenda and her family.
Until next month, think spring!
Kathy Ayette is a teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic School. She can be reached at email@example.com. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.