May I Have Your Attention Please?

As I started talking about Poe’s eerie stories today, I noticed that, for the first time since all this TAKS crap started, something strange happened: all the kids were paying attention. Although they were to fill out a TAKS like questionnaire after reading Poe’s biography, the kids were really interested in it.

I told them about the Simpson’s episode that was very similar to The Tell Tale Heart. They wanted to know if they could find a copy of The Black Cat of The Pit and the Pendulum at the library, and it was dead silent when I read Annabel Lee.

It felt good to get them so excited about literature. Maybe the same thing will happen when we read the autobiography of Emily Dickenson.


The Ire in Me

I’ve started my college classes again. This semester I’m taking Adolescent Psychology. Our first class was last week, yes, on MLK day, but the prof didn’t show. Anyway, today, she had us create a Venn Diagram comparing & contrasting what adolescents are like to what we were like at their age. After about thirty minutes, we came together as a large group and shared. We sounded like a bunch of grumpy old people.

Then I got to thinking about the things we were saying, and I got really angry. Mostly because it all came back to my issue of the month: teaching to this test. It was good that the prof validated our feelings or I would have really gone off the top. I would have begun to write furiously upon my brand new notebook.

Here are the two things that upset me the most:

Kids are not allowed to choose any book they want to read. Instead, they have to read books that are in the Accelerated Reader program. When they get done with the book, they have to take a test to prove they read the book and then they acquire points for these books. We have to give them two grades from this, one is based on the amount of points, the other is based on the percentage of their tests. So in my class, they need to have 10 points every six weeks. So if they read a book worth 36 points, that’s 100. But if they made 75 percent on the tests, then that’s the other grade. It pisses me off to no end because to be honest, I don’t give a damn what they read as long as they read.

The other thing that was making me upset was the fact that everything that we teach has to be backed up by a TEK, the objectives tested on TAKS. The problem with this is that we cover all of them every six weeks, so in actuality, we’re teaching the same thing over and over, with the exception of writing of course.

I really hope they get enough people into the education system so that we fight back all this teaching to the test junk. In the end, yes, our kids will be great at taking a standardized test, but they won’t be able to think.


One of the Smartest Songs I've heard in a While

I'm sure Gustavo is already onto this one.

by Ricardo Arjona featuring Intocable

Empaco un par de camisas, un sombrero,
su vocación de aventurero,
6 consejos, 7 fotos, mil recuerdos.

Empaco sus ganas de quedarse,
su condición de transformarse
en el hombre que soñó
y no ha logrado.

Dijo adiós con una mueca disfrazada de sonrisa.
Y le suplico a su Dios crucificado en la repisa
el resguardo de los suyos.
Y perforo la frontera como pudo.

Si la luna suave se desliza
por cualquier cornisa sin permiso alguno.
Porque el mojado precisa
comprobar con visas que no es de neptuno.

El mojado tiene ganas de secarse.
El mojado esta mojado por las lágrimas que bota la nostalgia.
El mojado, el indocumentado
carga el bulto que el legal
no cargaría ni obligado.

El suplicio de un papel lo ha convertido en fugitivo.
Y no es de aquí porque su nombre no aparece en los archivos, ni es de allá porque se fue.
Si la luna suave se desliza por cualquier cornisa sin permiso alguno.
Porque el mojado precisa comprobar con visas que no es de neptuno.

Sabe a mentira tu verdad,
sabe a tristeza la ansiedad
de ver un freeway y soñar con la vereda que conduce hasta tu casa.

Mojado de tanto llorar
sabiendo que en algún lugarte espera un beso haciendo pausadesde el día en que te marchaste.

Si la luna suave se desliza por cualquier cornisa sin permiso alguno.
Porque el mojado precisa comprobar con visas que no es de neptuno.
Si la visa universal se extiende el día en que nacemosy caduca en la muerte.
Porque te persiguen mojado,
si el cónsul de los cielos
ya te dio permiso.


What's up?

Part of the TAKS drilling strategies is this contest we call the “Writing Roundup.” Basically, the kids do a selection off the seventh grade Writing TAKS from previous years. They fill in their answers on a scantron and we compare percentages.

On the bulletin board in the hallway, there is a race track with cars and pictures of the 6th grade ELA teachers. Positions are changed every Wednesday and Friday, the day after the kids do the “Writing Roundup” in class. Every other teacher has been in first place, except mine. This week, my car has finally ended up in a ditch, and really, I don’t know if we’ll be able to get it out.

Of course, I question myself as a teacher. Everyone tells me not to worry about. I was only three points behind, which is really nothing, but I still worry. Are these kids regurgitating answers to me or do they really know what they’re talking about? We practice our grammar almost every day on our bell work/quick start, and yet they fail to see the simplest things like the misspelling of schedule.

But then, when I ask them what we talked about the day before and no one in the class can tell me, I wonder if it’s really me. I guess the fact that the TAKS is only ten weeks away is pretty nerve wrecking in itself. I hate to have to teach to this damn test, a test that contains so many errors that leaves teachers and students befuddled when they go over the answers, a test that the entire Texas education system revolves around, a test whose results can eventually decide whether or not a teacher is worth keeping on board.



One of my favorite things about Asian food is the fortune cookies. No matter where I go or who picks my cookie, my fortune is always something that can be applied to my life. My most recent read:

Someone looks up to you. Don’t let them down.

Today was one of those difficult days. The kids didn’t really want to work. In every class, someone did something that provoked a lecture. I think I handled it better that I have before. When I delivered my lectures it was much more coherent and got to the point: I’m here because I care.

The apathy that some of these students have is incredible. It’s difficult to gauge where it developed. Although I’m a disappointed, it only gives me more ganas because in the end, someone is looking up to me and I really can’t let them down. And of course, comments like the on Ktrion left do wonders for a gal.



El Paso was good. It was really nice to hug some of my family members and not have it be one of those courtesy hugs. Of course, there were a couple of people that I didn’t want to see, but for the most part, I stayed away from them.

My nieces are all growed up. They’re beautiful and all that good stuff that proud aunts always say. My nephews are darling. Ricky Ticky, the kid who stole my heart years ago, is still the most awesome. Richard, his older bro, is a damn good guitar player. It’s funny because he plays all sorts of old school rock songs. On one trip, it so happened there was a Heart cd in the cd player. So Baracuda comes on the radio and Ricky, having learned all these songs from his brother, says in the daintiest voice ever, “Baracuda!”

It was sort of disheartening to leave. I hadn’t felt that in a long time. I’d love to go back, but I can’t for another couple of years. Sometimes I wonder what I’ll be going back to. I mean, I live in a pretty awesome city where I have a ton of things at the tip of my fingers, but being here, I miss out on small moments. I guess I have a lot to think about.

School started today. It wasn’t too bad. The worst part was that my feet were killing me. It must be the shoes. I can’t seem to find some sensible shoes.

Yesterday, I had one of those Nelson Ha-Ha! Moments. I was making some copies and there were a couple of other teachers in there, among them was M., a fellow Latina, and the Racist. As it turns out, we’re all going to this out of town training in the same group. Unbeknownst to me, people were already claiming their roomies. M. tuned me into the whole thing by asking if I’d room with her and of course, I said yes. I like her, not only because she’s a Latina, but because I think we have the same kind of temperament. She’s really laid back and takes it all as it comes. Anyway, the Racist pipes in and says, “Well, I’m going then too.”

And M., who has not a single mean bone in her entire body, says, “Oh, well, maybe we can all room together.” But that ain’t gonna happen. I know its mean, but I’m sort of stuck for the moment so I rejoice in moments like this.

In New Years News, the only resolution I have officially made is to write more. I intend on spending and extra half hour after school to write. Well, I’m off to finish my seating charts. The kids got moved around the different classes so in some ways, some issues have been amended but other have popped up. All in all, I’m hopeful about this semester.