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MEAP, Stress, and Life in General

  • Posted on October 24, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Every school in Michigan knows what this involves!

Last week at school we finished giving the MEAP (Michigan Educational Assessment Program).  Everyone could finally let go of a collective sigh of relief.  I personally think it is pathetic that as an art teacher administering a math test, I didn’t sleep well the night before.  I kept waking up and every time I did I kept thinking “Katie, remember to give the second part first.”  Why you may ask was this the case and what was stressing me out?  The fact is that I had a large group of students and I wanted to make sure that they were comfortable in my room.  The group I had was advanced math students but there is still that nagging pressure to perform.  Everyone at school from the administration on down to each and every student understands that we have to perform well or face some kind of “consequence”.  All of this results in the first month of school becoming some kind of crazy world where every bit of scheduling is about preparing students for the tests that they will be taking in October.  I almost feel like this week is the first week of school, except that we are now meeting with parents for parent/teacher conferences.  With all of the interruptions that I have had in scheduling, it just doesn’t feel like we have been in session for six weeks of school.  My seventh hour advanced art class had at least two full weeks when I barely even saw them!  This week is the week when everything will finally get back to normal, well sort of normal.  There are also many individual student schedule changes which are very annoying to me and probably to every other teacher that is involved.  I’ve had students switched from one art class to another and their grades are lost, so I have to go back and find all of their artwork and resubmit their grades.  All of these things are the housekeeping part of teaching that I really don’t enjoy.

When we were administering the MEAP tests we seemed to have very short planning times.  As a result, I am so far behind with everything from grading, Artsonia and every other aspect of my school and home life that I haven’t even been able to blog at all!  So tonight I figured I would let people know that I am alive and kicking but so very stressed out that I cannot even imagine how tired I’ll be at the end of this week.  Our parent/teacher conferences are on Wednesday and Thursday nights from 4:00-8:00p.m.  Normally we would have Friday off.  However, since we are going to have the Wednesday off before Thanksgiving, we will be at school on Friday.  I’m thinking that the students better be on their best behavior because there are apt to be some tired and grumpy teachers in school on Friday!

These bears were at the Gerald Ford Museum in Grand Rapids during Artprize. I don't know if they are still there but they were made with a chainsaw and are very whimsical.

So, in the past month there has been a lot happening in the art world here in Michigan with Artprize and with my inspiring students and in the “real” world of politics with the death of Mummar Gaddafi and the announcement of the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq.  Of course there are also those Republican candidates that just don’t seem to create much excitement beyond the confines of the Tea Party movement.  With what is happening in most of our lives, it’s hard to get excited over politics these days.  It’s tough deciding who to vote for when most of the candidates seem like Pete and Repeat!  President Obama has kept all of the Bush policies going and so he’s a Bush repeat and the Republican candidates sound like broken records when they repeat the same thing over and over.  It’s usually something about taxes and health care.  I feel worn out listening to them.  The one thing they all need to do is figure out the job situation.  The lack of leadership on this issue is appalling.  I do hear the president talking about his job’s plan.  The only problem is he still lacks real conviction.  It seems like a game to try and get ready for the 2012 election.  I hate being so cynical, but after being promised change and discovering that change only really meant we now have a black president, I’m disappointed.  I was ready for a black president.  After all, I got used to one watching “24”.  The president being black should not be the only thing that defines his presidency.

Fariha, an eighth grader, who dazzles me with her mixture of the merging of her life in Bangledesh and her American life.

Several months ago my brother asked me if I was going to vote for Obama.  Honestly, I don’t know who I’m going to vote for, but I remember telling my brother that Obama needed to get us out of these two wars if he wanted my vote.  (We weren’t involved with Libya at the time.)  I also told him that it couldn’t mean just taking troops out of one country and putting them in another.  I wanted a president that was more like FDR and less like GW.  So far, I feel like Obama lives in the shadow of Bush.  Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, even reminded us on Sunday that the schedule for troop withdrawal was actually the time table that President Bush had set up!  Imagine that!  When President Obama sent those troops into Osama Bin Laden’s compound, he once again gave credit to President Bush.  Yesterday, I heard Pat Buchanan singing the praises of President Obama on foreign policy.  Anyone that knows the politics of Pat Buchanan has to understand why some of us just don’t get Obama.  It makes me think of that country song about being country before country was cool.  With Obama, I feel he was Republican way before he was ever any kind of Democrat!  Maybe Democrats just aren’t cool.  I don’t know if Obama lost his way or if he never had a true path to begin with.  I just feel like he doesn’t understand what many people are going through that have lost their jobs, taken a lesser job, or have given up looking for a job.  Talk is cheap.  We have been taught from little on that actions speak louder than words.  The politics of Washington is deafening silence as each politician turns a blind eye away from the poor, the disheartened, and the disenfranchised.   I saw a statistic scrolling on the bottom of my TV screen the other day.  It basically said that 50% of American workers make less than $26000 (I don’t know the exact figure.) a year.  That is a shocking statistic and I’m not sure what study it was from but we all know that the top two or three percent control almost everything.  Politicians in Washington need to wake up to the reality that is facing our country.

Cory, a seventh grader, who is quietly creative and a model student!

We have great wealth, but alas we have many people that are struggling at the bottom trying to get ahead.  We keep telling our kids to go on to college only to discover how saddled with student loans they have become.  It’s a glass house those student loans are built on.  Hopes and dreams are easily shattered much like the dreams of our youth when they struggle to find fulfilling work after they have committed to years of indebtedness.  Will they get bailed out when they can’t fulfill their financial commitment?  Probably not but, rest assured the bank they are dealing with will get bailed out!

Lela, a 7th grader, a young girl with a thousand things on her mind!

These artworks were created by a few students this year in my art classes.  This is why I teach.  I love working with these young people full of creative energy!  They are the reason I am so frustrated by our political system that rewards cowards and destroys and deters innovative thinking!

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