Posted in This is real life.


Friends, I’m taking a break from mystifying analogies and soap boxes.

Today, it’s time for me to get real. Because the next couple of weeks are going to particularly hellish, thanks to TELPAS and STAAR. Plus the fact that I have more work to do in a smaller amount of time than ever before in my career. Midnight deadlines? Pah. Give me a reporting job any day over this horrendous dose of paperwork and bureaucratic bs ESL teachers have to slog through.

I blame Rick Perry, the state legislature, and whoever invented standardized testing. (I hear it was some bastards at Harvard, but I have a feeling that’s a little too modern to be the legit origin.)

But no matter where the blame actually lies, I know that I’m not the only person suffering.

Really, the kids need to relax in order to do their best. Which is why, when making up their review/strategy packets for the upcoming week, I designed the following cover sheet in the spirit of Douglas Adams:

I love my kids. And despite the fact that some of them are mini-bums, they do ALL really care about their test scores, for various reasons. Maybe it’s because they want to prove that they aren’t stupid. Maybe it’s because they actually care about school. But….

usually it’s because they want to try – for me.

This is the thought that wakes me up in the middle of the night. The thought that makes me realize that my kids are worth all the bs. These kids may not try for anyone else in their life, but they try for me.

Which, of course, makes the STAAR test all the more upsetting for me. Because some of these kids? They work their little booties off. They secretly do their homework and email it to me so no one finds out (true story, I swear). And the heartbreaking thing is that no matter how hard they try, that test is just not going to let them succeed, because it’s not their thing. And no matter how much I tell them it doesn’t REALLY matter right now…it does. To them. And it would to me, too.

So when I say the next two weeks are hard…it’s not just the paperwork. It’s the girls crying after the test when they know they failed. It’s the boys who tell me that they just bubbled in answers halfway through because they gave up.

This is why I panic. It’s also why I do a lot of other things, too.

But when the day is over, the pencils are sharpened down to nubs, and all the tests are securely locked away, I always remind myself of what matters: that my kids tried their very best. And I’m proud of them for that. I just wish that it was enough.

So my request, to all of my friends out there in the adult world, is that next week when you’re stressing out at your job and ready to murder that annoying boss of yours, take a minute. Step back and remember how you got there. Be thankful for the resources that you had, or maybe the plain old hard work you chose to do to get you to where you are. And then, if that doesn’t work, read Hitchhiker’s Guide. That’s my plan.

Just, you know, whatever happens: DON’T PANIC.



We seek to learn, and when academics do not present the answers, we look inside our own beautiful imaginations for the key.

3 thoughts on “DON’T PANIC

  1. Oh no, don’t panic.

    Did I tell you about the email this town’s commerce department sent out before the Indiana version of STAAR? They sent it out to business owners and told them to encourage young patrons of your businesses on their upcoming testing. The email said to ask them how they’re preparing and tell them to work hard and do their best.

    PRESSURE, much? I know it takes a village to raise a child and everything, but goodness freaking gracious.

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