Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Stepping in With ISTEP

Calling all Indiana teachers and students,

Today is your first day of ISTEP testing.  Did I hear a moan? 

I have been called again to the school where I have retired from to help for various reasons during this testing time.  (Nice to have someone out there who knows the rules of the game and can step in to help where ever.) 

This year, a student broke his wrist 3 weeks ago.  Will he need help to write to the language arts prompt?  Mom says, "Yes."  Student really doesn't want help, but I enter the picture to be there just in case he does.  I have been asked if I can attend all 4 days of testing.  I can do that!

I jump on it because I'm always looking for excuses to see my former trench buddies.  Then I realise after the commitment that I have to get up early for 4 days--not so tempting as soon as it registers.  But I will only be there until 10:00 or so.  I could take 4 naps.  Now that I get 8 hours every night almost, I don't take naps anymore.  It would be nice to try a nap again.  Or I could just wait until bedtime and get a great night's sleep without having to get up to visit the bathroom or toss and turn because I'm still trying to solve the world's problems at night in my sleep.  I can do this.

I'm a morning person as a rule, but I've become a dallier in my retirement.  The dally is coffee, emails, checking the weather, the birds, my projects, and whatever I have to do in order to stay in my robe longer.  One cannot clean house, for example, in a robe, so that task is not ever in question in the morning.  When I do have to appear somewhere early, the rule is:  No piddling first.  Get ready, and then dally with what time I have left.  Not having time to dally--that's the rub.   

Okay, geared up and ready to do my job.  When teaching, you hit that door and you're off!  I go into the office and am told to sit down and wait.  What?  Wait?  I'm ready to ISTEP. 

I stand around for a while and make small talk with the secretaries, but they ignore me because they have better things to do in the morning than talk to someone who sleeps in every day!  Yes, you have to be careful what you do and say to practicing teachers and working office staff.   You don't want to alienate yourself too much by that great big smile whenever you walk in, but that's just what happens!!   Then you don't want to rattle on and on about anything because you don't have that morning stimulation anymore and crave it.  You know you're alive when you're hit with at least 20-25 7th graders at a time all day. 

Even though it's Tuesday, office staff acts like it's Monday for a very good reason--students are all in different classrooms and there is no list to help find them. What if a student needs to be located? Curses. The begging begins for the list. One staff member even says, "What day is today?" ISTEP has just stepped up the ante for even the office staff.  I even feel like I'm in a doctor's office, waiting for the bad news.  I'm an outsider now, too. 

Okay, I sit.  Finally, I am assigned to one student.  Wow, a teacher's dream job--one student!  And I know and see that he is a self-starter, polite, and ready to perform.  He admits he scores well, but he doesn't feel that he does well during the testing--even unrest in the heart of a very good student.  No one likes to be tested--NO ONE.

My title today is "Scribe."  I like it.  It's an age old profession, and I get to be one today!!!

I think about my job and know I will have to print since cursive is a thing of the past these days.  It will be hard for me because I just don't print well--I would fail first grade!!  I can do it.  I am a Scribe!

The student will have to put in any punctuation and spell anything that is thought to be beyond his grade level.  He will dictate, and I will write.  I tell him he has a secretary to make him feel more comfortable.  But how can you feel more comfortable when you leave the room with an older woman to help you write when you're a basketball jock and an "A" student? 

Maybe I should be chewing gum, swaggering, and carrying my cell phone, playing "Girl on Fire" by Alicia Keyes when we left the room.  But, like I said, this student is good, polite, and a good sport.  I find he's independent and a "writer" in the truest realm--3 pages to answer a prompt.  He does not falter or ask me for help.  That green cast with the black signatures seem to make those fingers go even faster than most students who don't have a broken wrist.  I offer my help again after 30 minutes, but he continues on his own.  I realize I'm going to be fired or laid off if I don't get to help him.

He's done, and I'm done already dancing to the tune of the ISTEP Jump.

I did nothing but prepare my post for today which has completely changed since writing it in my writers notebook.  I'm not suppose to be writing for me, but scribing!  I am not a Scribe and still don't know what it feels like to be one!   My shoulders droop.

I did see my fellow teachers and experienced the ISTEP Drone. 

However, all is not lost.  On to the community library to sort books for our Mega Book Sale the end of March! 

Life is good.



  1. We are definitely in the middle of the ISTEP shuffle here, too. My day has been all mixed up with a new and different schedule that tries to fit everyone's ideas of what it will take to do our best. Math has tested the past two days. Tomorrow it is time for my writers to show what they can do. My fingers are crossed!

  2. Loved this story! Especially the part with the Alicia Keys reference....too funny! Sorry you didn't get to actually write anything and fulfill your Scribe-ly duties today...maybe his hand will be tired tomorrow. :)

  3. Maybe we'll have a snow day tomorrow! So happy that your job is a scribe. We were talking about that job on Monday and wondering what that looks like! (as far as spelling, etc.) Glad you got to see your buddies! Enjoy the ISTEP shuffle this week.

  4. I love your blog, Tam! It was great to see you today, too, even though I only got to say a quick "Hi!" My favorite lines of what you wrote are, "Maybe I should be chewing gum, swaggering, and carrying my cell phone, playing 'Girl on Fire' by Alicia Keyes when we left the room. But, like I said, this student is good, polite, and a good sport. I find he's independent and a 'writer' in the truest realm--3 pages to answer a prompt..." I loved the imagery, creativity, and voice shining through! What a fun writing!

  5. Something about this line charmed me: My title today is "Scribe." I like it. It's an age old profession, and I get to be one today!!!

    My shoulders drooped with you when I found out you only got to scribe your own slice today. Your scribe skills were woefully underutilized today, but they did create quite the slice!

  6. Tam, I think you are the perfect scribe. I love getting to go back to school through your words--you are giving me a much-needed new perspective.

  7. I love the phrase "become a dallier." I want to dally, oh yeah some days that is what I do. Life is good as a dallier. Sorry you didn't get to write. Since he's a good student, it must have been fun to see a student who knows what he's doing.

  8. Life is good...
    Especially when I get to see YOU in the morning at WMS. For some reason, it aligns the world. ;)

  9. Oh how delightfully your words describe the ISTEP experience!