Tongue Tied.

“Miss, can I ask you a questions? It’s a little personal.”

 “Personal? I guess so, Ayan.”

“What are you looking for in a husband?”

“What?! That is personal. Uh… I haven’t really thought about it, I guess. What do you mean?”

“Like do you want to marry a rich man?”

“Not really.”

“Miss, when you gonna get married? Like one year? Two years? Like that?”

“I don’t know, Samir. Maybe ten years. I really don’t know.”


There are so many questions I just don’t know the answer to. Unfortunately, these are the questions they ask.

I like to hope I can be an example of a strong, independent woman for my students, girls and boys. Maybe they just think I’m nuts.


Young Blood. Caring Service.

Sometimes when I write about one of the claims or domains, I feel like a child being introduced to and forced to talk to a new kid. Well, I guess technically I was usually the new kid.

“Hi, nice to meet you.” Then I would find something to do by myself because I felt uncomfortable.

It isn’t that the claims/domains are unknown or new to me. I just feel kind of shy about talking about them sometimes.


Education is two-faced this week.

Tracks on Side A: 1. Stressed Out.  2. Prep It Up.  3. Meetings Galore.  4. Inauthentic Assessments.  5. Sweaty Hands.  6. Broken Pencils.  7. Long Days.  8. Angry Conversational Undertones.  9. “Do Your Best”.

Tracks on Side B: 1. Student Stamina.  2. Sighing Relief.  3. Everyday Downtime.  4. Teacher, Encourager.  5. Relations.  6. Try the Mints.  7. And The Citrus Aerosol.  8. The End of the First Tunnel.  9. Waka Waka Friday.

I could rant and rave on and on about the unfairness of it all. I really could.

But, going back to the theme of staying positive, I won’t do that. Later, I can provide some experience and reflection and research for those who would like to discuss the injustice of the system.

On Side B, I heard solidarity. Everyday at lunch students told me how much they dislike testing. I agreed with them wholeheartedly. I dislike them too, my friends. Teachers were all saying to their students, “You are all so strong. Keep up the good work and the focus. I don’t like this either; I wish we could do science instead.”

Caring service includes this solidarity.

I heard teachers acting as affective filters. I heard mints crunching in little mouths. I heard the chh-chhhh of aerosol spray. The mint sucking and the citrus smell are shown in different studies to promote brain activity. I didn’t read the studies, but it at least gave students a little bit of something on a day when their teachers aren’t allowed to help them in any other way.

Caring service necessitates teachers as filters, letting in as much good and as little bad as possible.

I heard teachers celebrating the resilience and stamina of their students. I heard Magic School Bus being played on a SmartBoard in the afternoon. I heard talk of pizza parties. “Yonathan, I know this is so difficult, but you are so strong. Think about it and do your best.” I hated just saying, “Do your best” when a student asked for clarification… almost started with the negative. Moving on.

Caring service celebrates people.

I think the most beautiful sound I heard this week was the silence after a sigh of relief. They are done. They’ve finished. Teachers will still anxiously await the scores that authentically assess their own value as effective teachers (sarcasm). Students, however, will rest easy. The scores won’t be available in time for teachers to use them in their instruction, and student transcripts are not affected by their Common Core standardized test scores (we learned this after the first morning of testing). Whatever those tests try to say about my students doesn’t matter, because they are done. The exams are gone, we students and teachers remain (except for the fact that next week is my last week).



In other news, Oklahoma is moving to drop Common Core.


It’s late. Too late for me to be awake, so sorry if this post is… blurg. I have to pick KandyAss up from the airport at midnight. I don’t know what I will do with myself for another week without her here. She’ll go back to college classes after a week in California; I’ll stay here. Honestly, I think I’ve got the better end of the deal (except the California part).

So, this list is an attempt to last another couple hours before I journey to the runway. It also reflects many of the workings of my mind this week.

Things To Do While Proctoring A Common Core Standardized Exam

1. Award quirky superlatives to each student (e.g. coolest shoes, most twitchy, most likely to protest this exam).

2. Tone your calves by lifting up onto your tiptoes. Do a few sets of 10 or just walk around on tiptoe.

3. Imagine you are a student in this classroom. Who would be your friends? Who are you most like?

4. Start memorizing something (a poem, a passage, countries of Asia, world capitals) and practice reciting it under your breath.

5. Imagine the most amazing field trip without financial limits. Where would you go? What would you do? Who would chaperone? Plan out the details.

6. Make a list of your favorite thing about each person on your grade-level team.

7. Assign each student in your classroom a spirit animal based on character traits and/or physical traits.

8. Use the letters of a student’s name as an acronym.

9. Compare what you wore in 5th grade to what your students wear now.

10. Choose a song. Now change the words to make it about your life at school.

11. See how long you can make your strides around the room without distracting students. You can do more than you might expect when students are focused on these tests.

12. If each person were a different color, what color would each student be? What is your own spirit color?

13. Begin planning out the epic you will write that reflects your journey this year. What role will each student take in that story? These tests are the most wicked antagonist.

14. Practice holding your breath.

15. Remember that if these tests show you anything, it’s how strong, resilient, and determined these kids are.

Electric Feel.

Some pictures from afterschool. A few of the 2-4 graders drew these while the others were watching the movie.

Diyana drew this landscape and then labeled it for me. On the other side is my name: Ms. Wals.

45 Afterschool (Diyana)

Another by Diyana. No labels this time, but my name has changed to Ms. Wales. She noticed that an ‘e’ would add the extra syllable in my name.

45 Afterschool (Diyana2)

This is a portrait of me (in a sad desert?) by Dina. I am mostly impressed by her interpretation of the sun.

45 Afterschool (Dina)


Lastly, I drew a pigeon. I named it Wales.

45 Afterschool (Wallace)

We Come Running.

I was going to upload some pictures that a few of my afterschool students drew for me. However, the scanner is not cooperating today. Terribly frustrating considering I should be scanning a whole bunch of student work right now.

My plans are foiled, but I still have an adorable excerpt from my day.

In afterschool today, we watched Harry Potter. Usually we do homework and ESL stuff, but after all that testing, these kids need some chill time.

Anyway, I heard Laxuman talking to Edmiston about me. I couldn’t hear exactly what he was saying, and Edmiston looked like she didn’t understand him. So, I walked over and asked him what he was saying. He said:

“Miss, are you like British like them? You talk like them.”

I laughed, “Nope, I am not British. Do you think I sound like that?”

“Yeah, and you look like them.”

I don’t have his accent and I don’t have a NY accent, so I must be British.