Tuesday, April 26, 2011

State Testing

So, I completely understand why we have to endure state testing. Federal guidelines state that to receive federal monies, states have to prove that we are preparing our students accordingly, blah, blah, blah.

We go through countless trainings, cover anything in our classrooms that might remotely help kids, put all of our desks in neat little rows, fill out seating charts and sign oaths...all for a test. A test that if you administer incorrectly, could cost you your job. A test that could alter a child's schedule for the next year if they do not pass. A test that could send a child to summer school if they do not pass certain sections of the test.

The biggest problem I have is the stress these tests put on the kids. I've seen kids so nervous, they attend tutorials every day of the week in the weeks before the test, even if they have done well in class all year. I've seen kids walk in with no less than 10 pencils, 3 erasers, 2 pencil sharpeners, a lunch, a snack, 3 bottles of water and a ziplock bag full of peppermints. I've seen kids come to me stressed out because they don't know if their mechanical pencil is a number 2 pencil or not. I've had kids worried they didn't erase their original mark enough when they wanted to change an answer. I've seen kids check over their work 4 and 5 times, close their books for a few minutes, then check another 2 or 3 times. And worst of all, I've seen a 6 foot, 7th grade boy sit at his desk with tears streaming down his face because, "Coach Winck, I just can't think of anything to write about." On a normal day, I would talk to this student and help him work through it. On state testing days, the only thing I can do is pat him on the back and say, "Try your best", then leave my classroom and cry for him. When did we start putting the weight of a 7th graders world in a test?!?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Things I Want to Do

Now that I am *almost* finished with grad school (only one more test left!) there are some things I want to do. I am not going to know what to do with myself with all this free time!
Ways to occupy myself:
*Take a sewing class. I have a sewing machine, but I have no clue how to use it! I have tons of Tri Delta shirts and Camp shirts that I need to make into a quilt.
*Read for FUN! I've almost forgotten what it feels like to go to a book store and look for a book for me, something I WANT to read. Not something for school or for my classroom, but just for me.
* Organize my house. Go through room by room and organize, throw away and de-clutter!
*Spend more time at the gym- I won't have the "but I have to study excuse" to use anymore!
*Begin swimming again...this kind of goes along with the gym.
*Take a cooking class. I know the basics, and I can figure most things out in the kitchen, but I want to learn how to make things from scratch. I want to make my own pasta and learn how to create my own recipes.
*Spend more time with friends...I've had to turn down wayyyyyy to many invites because I had to study or work on a project or take a test.
*Take a photography class. I want a cool camera and I want to know how to take amazing pictures and play with them on the computer.
*Write. I love writing, but it seems I never have the time.

Wow, I'm going to need to quit more than grad school to tackle this list!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Well...it's a little late, but better than never!

*A little over a month ago, Will texted me in the middle of the day that he was being "called in to the principal's office", meaning he was called in to his boss's office. Then later, I got a text asking me to call him when I could. I got a little worried...this didn't sound good!

*When I finally was able to call him, I heard the great news, Will was being sent to Orlando to receive an Excellence Award for being an amazing team leader! The even better news was that the company was paying for everything for him and his "significant other" (isn't Lockheed so PC), and he told me he wanted me to be his "significant other" (isn't that just too sweet!)

*So, after shopping for the perfect dress (black tie affair), packing myself, packing Will, packing more when I realized Will had room in his suitcase, we were finally on our way to FL!

*We arrived in FL with no issues, until we hit the rental car counter...even though there was only one person in line in front of us, we probably waited almost 45 minutes before we were helped. So we get to the car, a very nice, very shiny car whose name I cannot pronounce. Even the rental car lady just wrote K in the model line. I quickly renamed the car "Sushi", and she became our Sushi! *We relied on our trusty iPhone GPS to get us to the tux shop to pick up Will's tux before they closed at 9...it was 8:15 by this time. As we are paying for the tux, the very helpful employee told us that since Will worked for Lockheed and he was getting an award, his rental was 40% off! I asked if they gave the females dress allowences and was told they didn't. Lockheed lost some points on that one!

*Finally around 9, we were able to find a place to eat. This proved more difficult because Will refused to eat at a chain restaurant where we could eat at home and I could not have meat. We found a sports bar that had a respectable fish sandwich and headed to the hotel. It was after 10:30 when we checked in to the hotel, so we pretty much just showered and headed to bed!

*Saturday morning-aka Harry Potter day-, I set an early alarm and dragged Will out of bed and into clothes so that we could head to Universal Studios. I had been promised a trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and I was determined to spend as much time as possible there! I LOVED it! I was like a kid in a candy store! I wanted to do and see everything I could! It was everything I expected! We rode the rides, watched the wand show and toured the different buildings. See facebook for more in depth pictures.

* So we spent a wonderful day at Universal Studios, visiting Harry Potter, Dr. Suess, Marvel Comic Books, and other random characters. Before we knew it though, it was time to head back to the hotel and get ready for an Evening of Excellence! Hair dryer, straightner and dress steamer plugged in, we began to get ready. Luckily, the ceremony was at the Gaylord (where we were staying) so we were able to take our time getting ready.

*We headed down to cocktail hour, found our seats and began the evening! Will received his award after the salad course, and then was able to relax through the rest of the night. the ceremony was lovely and of course I was very proud of Will! Towards the end of the evening, the MC announced there was entertainment coming out. A local Broadway troupe performed "Under the Sea" from "The Little Mermaid". While it was nice and entertaining, it was a little out of place...then they came back at the end of the night and did a medley of "Dream Girls", "Wicked" and "Hairspray". If you know me, you know I love musicals, but this just seemed forced and out of place.

*Sunday, we were able to sleep in a little before packing up and heading back to reality! We packed up, checked out of the Gaylord, returned the tux, grabbed some lunch, returned Sushi and boarded the plane back to TX! Even though it was very quick trip, it was much needed for both of us! While we both love being home, it's nice to get away sometimes!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I changed something on my blog...I don't know how. I have no clue what I did or how to fix it. I need blogging tutorials.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sometimes Kids Surprise You...

Soooo...most people in the area now know about the budget crisis in Keller ISD (and if you don't, what rock do you live under?!? Is there room for me under that rock?!?) Yesterday, students at TimberCreek High School staged a walk-out, walked to the administration building (about 2 miles away from TCHS). Of course the news was all over it and students met with the superintendent and their principal to protest 200 teachers in KISD losing their jobs. Since my school feeds directly into TCHS, our students now want to get involved in the action. Today, signs began appearing in the hallways asking to "Save Our Teachers" and "Donate to fundraisers so we can keep our teachers!" I think it's great that they want to help and get involved! While the 8th graders are planning some elaborate scheme, the administation and the teachers are trying to re-direct this energy into something more positive than a sit in or skipping school. We want our kids to write letters and get upset that this is happening in their district. Kids are starting to care about what happens and we need to keep that excitment going strong! We need our students to talk to their parents and get them to vote on June 18th in the TRE election. We need our parents to talk to their neighbors and get them to vote. That is the only way the TRE is going to pass and we get some of our teachers back. While it is difficult to explain the whole budget process to 7th and 8th graders, I welcome the discussion it's going to bring in my classes!