Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Shiny New Year

The past few weeks have been very rough at work. I've been out of the classroom and have been administering speaking tests to the students. One at a time. That makes for a very long day. the test lasts approximately 20 minutes per student. This week I have been testing the little ones (first and second graders). The test works like this: we look at pictures and I have tiered questions and conversation to ask and engage the students in, and I assess their language abilities and complexity based on those. It is a scripted test. The final sentence of my scripted directions is "do you have any questions before we begin?". Now, the older students (the grades I teach and the ages with which I am familiar) generally say "No" and then we're off and running with the test. On occasion, it will happen that a student will have a question, at which time they ask, I answer, and we're off and running with the test. Let me tell you about the little ones. After I ask if they have any questions, their tiny little brows furrow, they purse their lips, their eyes wander around, they shift in their seats, they raise an eyebrow, furrow both again, relax and then purse lips, etc., etc., you get the picture. Realize, please, that this is a special kind of torture for me, who only wants to get through this endless list of students and get back in the classroom. So, this whole "Do I have a question" process for the little ones probably lasts a minute, but feels like an eternity. Usually, this physical thinking process ends with a reluctant and insecure "no", and then we're (finally!) off and running. A little dude that I tested this week went through the same facially laborious thinking process following the "do you have any questions?" question. It took him quite some time. He finally looked at me and said "yes". He waited for me, so I responded "What's your question, baby?" Ladies and Gentlemen, here was the youngster's question following test taking directions: "Did you have a shiny New Year?" Why, Yes, my little man, I did!

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