Meanwhile, Julio has spent a lot of his time lately insisting that he is "dumb" and "stupid," which is probably the source of all the rage simmering underneath the surface, so...this is a child in crisis, and I cannot for the life of me get anybody to care. I love our guidance counselor, but she is extraordinarily overworked as it is and she seems to spend most of her day running around the building putting out fires and dealing with immediate emergencies. (Ironically, her office is directly across the hall from my classroom, but naturally she wasn't in it when Julio threw the blocks.) My assistant principal is an intelligent, competent administrator, but she seems more interested in how things look on paper. And all over the school there is a chain reaction of middlemen, from the IEP coordinator to the social worker to the guidance counselor, when what we really need is a direct line for emergency situations.
That night, Julio put on a pint-sized superstar performance at the school talent show, and the next day, he didn't show up for school. Obviously he had some recuperating to do. All this time I've been thinking he's an emotionally disturbed child with untreated ADD, but maybe he's just preparing for his future as a rock star!
Sixteen more days, sixteen more days...
And what are we going to be doing with our time in those sixteen days? Not doing any quality teaching, that's for sure! No, we're administering a final round of reading assessments. Back at the beginning of the school year, we started these new assessments that took us two months to complete, and that was with a push-in AIS teacher helping us. Now, we have sixteen days of school left and no push-in AIS teacher, so this is going to get done how...? It's not going to have any impact on report card grades, because those are due before we'll finish. We never looked at our original set of data from September or used it to drive our reading instruction in any way, so I have no idea what this round is supposed to measure or accomplish. All I know is that it means I have students reading at fantastically high levels that I never encountered when I was in AIS (my highest reader is a P, or end of third grade), but I won't get to meet with them for guided reading or small group instruction because I'll be busy assessing whether my students know how to read pairs of rhyming words.
In other news, today in read aloud we were up to the chapter of Charlotte's Web where Charlotte dies. I think I almost cried a little in front of my whole class. Even though we had been preparing for Charlotte's death for a while now (and most of the kids have already encountered the movie, so the cat was out of the bag), they still seemed faintly stunned that it had actually happened. I don't think they're enjoying this book as much as they did James and the Giant Peach, because it's not as outrageously funny, but I think it has such rich messages about friendship and loyalty and duty and growing up (they loved the parts where Fern is itching to go off and ride the Ferris wheel with Henry Fussy). Today, in another attempt to move past the vocabulary of "sad," I talked about the word "grief" and how grief is deeper than sadness, like what you feel when someone close to you dies. "You might be sad if you lose your favorite toy," I said, "but you wouldn't feel grief." So we talked about how Wilbur is grieving for Charlotte, and Ashima, who joined my class when she moved to the United States from Nepal in November, raised her hand and said, "That reminds me of James and the Giant Peach when James' parents died." Yay! There's nothing like a good literary connection to warm an embittered teacher's blackened, shriveled heart.