Wednesday, December 31, 2008

a running record on myself

i decided about a month ago that i needed to improve my spanish to communicate with my kiddos and their families, and that a fun way to do so would be to pick up a children's novel i already know well and read it in spanish.

so, over thanksgiving i found a copy of harry potter y la piedra filosofal. over a month later i'm on page 77, right about where harry is buying his varita (wand- i think) and ollivander, the wand salesman, is explaining to him that you do not choose your wand, your wand chooses you.

i'm enjoying sitting down every once and awhile with a cup of tea and my spanish harry potter book, although i don't think it is helping my spanish that much at all. i started spanish in eighth grade and took it all the way through freshman year in college. that sounds like a long time- sounds like i should be fluent. i'm not. i'm horrible at it. i was blessed my last required semester of spanish in college with a professor who was only still with us through the magic of tenure. he'd had multiple strokes and couldn't remember our names very well. more importantly, (for me) there were only 3 girls in the class and we all had double first names (i went to a very southern school). he could not possibly remember the combinations of our names. as long as i didn't make eye contact with him when he'd call half of my name mixed with half of another girl's name i never had to participate. since i didn't look up the other girl would be forced to answer (she was better at spanish anyway). he didn't have participation grades for me, but since participation was only done by him calling on us, he couldn't fault me for it. i burned my spanish text books after my last semester and vowed to never do anything that would require me to use the language again. of course, i then found a job where if i knew it, i could use it every day. i realize now i should have tried harder.

reading the book in spanish is more like doing a brain puzzle than a relaxing read. my brain is working far harder to interpret the pages than it does when i sit and read for fun (even harder than when i actually do my reading for grad school).

what it has done is make me very aware of what my brain does when i read, which of course makes me think of my beginning readers who are also struggling with a text in another language. it's made me think a lot about the beginning reading process, what is important for me to be able to read the text, and what is important for our kids to have support with a text.
i've got the schema for the text so my book choice was spot on. i could retell the story of harry potter without reading it since i've read it so many times in the past. i can give you a general update on each page since i'm so familiar with the story. so it's really my schema that's getting me through all of this.
(for those of you not familiar with how we teach reading at my school we teach the children to activate their schema- use what they know and think about what makes sense as a reading strategy). through this experiment i've learned that this is my number one reading strategy.
when we teach reading we look to see if the children are using msv, or meaning, structure, visual in their reading. whichever they are not using is what we learn we need to teach more of to make them a better reader. meaning is using the picture, thinking about what makes sense, thinking about the bigger story in general. clearly i'm awesome at this.
structure is how it sounds in the language. does it sound right? are the verb tenses correct? needless to say i have a very limited knowledge of what an accurate, fluent spanish language sounds like, so i cannot rely on this very much at all. just like our students, i'm sure if i was reading this out loud i wouldn't re-read to make sure my tenses were in order.
the visual strategy is the phonics part- how the reader decodes the words on the page. i'm also not very good at this, but it certainly helps that i'm reading a language with a similar alphabet. and i am checking for parts of the words i know- just like we teach our early readers. if i was going to prescribe the next step in my spanish reading education i would decide that i need to work on spanish phonics, and, of course, my vocabulary. (those basic, simple high frequency words that i just don't know).

this experiment is building my sympathy for my readers. i'm amazed at how much they don't struggle with a text when we're teaching them to read in a language they don't really know. it's also shown me the importance of book choice. if i had choosen any other book i'd be drowning. i'd have no interest and i sure wouldn't be on page 77. i'd be on page- opps, did i leave that book in the coffee shop? i certainly didn't mean to do that... experiment over.

instead i'm interested enough in the book to keep going, although i spend a lot of time inferring vocabulary and re-reading for meaning. as i read i feel as though i am doing a running record on myself, i can see myself checking off the words, coding my mistakes, putting notes in the margins of what i am doing wrong. as i continue to read it will be interesting to see if it allows me any more insight into the world of a struggling reader, or if it just continues to give me sympathy.

Monday, December 22, 2008

don't hide your light

my bff came to school today with brand new sketchers that light up when you stomp your feet. and not just a little bit of light like most five year olds have. no, sketchers (because he only wears sketchers- he is very brand conscious) have outdone themselves with the lights in their '911' pair. blue and red lights flashing all over the shoe. for a typically-developing first grader this would be exciting. for my bff who has high-functioning autism, this is a reason to become completely immersed in your shoes for extended periods of time.

then the lights went out for last hour of the day. my bff immediately met this with horror until he realized that he had lights on his shoes. he could save the day. so the last hour was spent with him stomping his feet and saying, "don't worry! i'll give you my light!"

i love that his classmates are so understanding they don't even blink at these sorts of illogical announcements.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


we spent saturday at my parents' house. my mother's school district is now out for the holidays (we have two more days) and so we helped her unload her car of her teacher presents. she and i teach at schools with very different socio-economic populations, which is reflected every year in our teacher presents. she had so many gifts we had to make multiple trips to the car to get all of the bags. at my school, that's not usually what you expect. classic gifts i've received have included a (used) curling iron. a few years ago i started turning the smaller, more endearing gifts into christmas ornaments. now my tree is decorated with small tokens of love from former students (and decorating the tree involves my poor husband listening to me reminisce about each student.)

this icon was from possibly the sweetest little boy i've ever taught. he gave it to me so i could match him. i believe it is the virgin mary. he wore it every day around his neck. his baby teeth were black from his years in bolivia but his smile could warm your heart. he left our school a few years ago and i don't know what happened to him. but i still hang his necklace with love.

this necklace was an end-of-year present from a little girl. it is handmade on plastic twine. she had her dad use his cigarette lighter to burn the string since they did not have scissors.

these shoes are from a little one who left our school for the gifted and talented center. she proudly gave me these tiny tokens on teacher appreciation day. she drove me crazy because she was always telling me her parents had lied on her forms when she came into america and she was actually older than seven, the year i had on record. any time age came up she'd argue with me about it. looking back at her height, maturity, and work habits, she probably was two years older than we were told.
this fan is from one of my former students who is now one of my jumpers. she brought it to me after her family travelled to vietnam one summer. i had no idea what to do with it (it's actually scented to help you fall asleep on hot nights) but i feel it adds an international flare to the christmas tree.

this little one has gone back to her country, argentina, but she presented this to me with pride one christmas. i was to hang it on my rear view mirror in my car so i could be exactly like her daddy.
this was a necklace, and while it is beautiful, it isn't quite my style. but doesn't it capture the light of the tree nicely? it's a gift from the little one who threw up on my feet one year. memories.

these handmade ornaments came from a little one from sri lanka. she was in my room the year of the tsunami. she desperately wanted to organize some way to help the victims back in her country, although she didn't know where to begin since she was only six. she made posters on her own and asked me if she could put them up in our classroom. she was one of four beautiful girls, all with long, dark hair,which was frequently infected with lice. however, she loved to toss her flowing hair constantly while she talked and we'd always be dodging her head as we sat in guided reading. she gave me many of these homemade ornaments and hung them all over our classroom, even though she was hindu. she returned to sri lanka a few years later, but promised that she'd come back when she was a teenager so she could learn to drive like an american.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

down and out

one of my kiddos looked just a bit off this morning. "hows it going?" i asked in my most cheerful-pull-a-kindergartner-out-of-being-a-grump voice.

"i don't feel so good" he said (which is the most articulate i've ever heard him be)

"and i hate christmas!"

"why do you hate christmas?"

"because, every year i ask santa clause to come, and every year he doesn't. my mom says he'll come one year, but i don't know when."

what do you say to that? for most of the kids christmas is an incredible time, but to think that santa skips you... one of my kiddos from last year told me that santa was too busy for him. it's heartbreaking to imagine a child thinking that this magical man skips just them but goes to all the other children. :(

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

my brilliant coworker, with her genius idea

splatypus over at kindergartenchaos sent me an article on charter schools yesterday (Charter Schools Make Gains On TestsHeadway by Poor Children Linked To Rigorous Methods, Ample Funds
By Dan Keating and Theola Labbé-DeBoseWashington Post Staff Writers,)

once i was finished ranting she pointed out why she'd sent it to me, "why doesn't someone compare our school with the high performing charter schools? even though we're public we still do a lot of what makes them (and us) successful."

excellent point. why do only charter schools get to be successful? come see us and see what makes us successful. how we, as a public school, are able to raise test scores.

sometimes it seems nobody wants to point to the public schools that are working... it's a lot more fun and controversial to point to the schools that aren't.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

the world, as seen from sitting criss-cross-applesauce

i'm sitting criss-cross-applesauce on the rug behind abby, a little girl who just joined one of my classes. she's an ethiopian refugee who came to us a few weeks ago speaking no english. she's wearing zack morris style pants- white wash denim with elastic cuffs. but instead of hugging her ankles they stop at her calves, even though it's about 40 degrees outside. her pink socks are tucked away in her red hand-me-down little boy sneakers with the rubber soles starting to peel away from the top of the shoe. her hair is in two neat pigtail braids but i can see silver strands of hair poking their way around her head. what makes a first grader begin to go grey?
she bounces up to the board to point to a letter s at the end of a word. she can't speak english but she follows the lesson about the ending of words and after watching her peers she knows what to do. she's beaming with pride.

i can't help watching her and feeling a sense of hope for life itself. every time you turn on the radio these days you hear about another 300 people losing their jobs right before christmas. you hear about your stock portfolio crashing in on itself, the value of your home declining, and how nobody is sure what's about to happen to our country. it's unsettling at a time of year that we're use to being filled with unbridled consumerism.

yet i watch abby, whose family did not just lose their house and their jobs- they lost their country. they lost their friends and their grandparents, and everything they knew. they lost the comfort of speaking being surrounded by a language they understood. they experienced something that made their first grader's hair begin to turn silver.

but abby is glowing just to be in school even in her zack morrison pants surrounded by a language she really doesn't understand. watching her fills you with a sense of relief, comfort, and hope.

all this that's going on right now, it sucks, and it's scary, and we don't know what will happen. but we're going to be ok. we will survive. it may be with out of style clothing, but we'll get there. the world- and our lives in the world, are bigger than all of this.

Friday, December 12, 2008

baby fever

my bff has been wanting a baby in his house for a long time. a few months ago he told me his mom was having a baby and we believed him until i checked with mom and found out that this was not the case.
"oh no!" she said, "he wants one so badly but we can't afford it right now. maybe next year." from the look on her face i could tell she felt the same way my bff did.

i hadn't heard the baby-stuff for awhile but today it came back. we were taking a walk to calm down on this december friday and so i let him hold a small bear from my desk. he immediately began cradling it like a baby and talking to it.

"i love you baby bear!" he said. when we stopped to talk to someone in the hallway he turned the bottom of my shirt into the baby's cradle and had me keep the baby there while he cooed over it. i finally got him to hold the baby himself, since he was starting to tell me that the baby was hungry for milk. he waited until we were in the clinic and then the baby went up his shirt.
and poof. he gave birth, right there in the clinic.

we walked back to class as he snuggled his baby, kissed its nose, and sung christmas carols to it. every female teacher we saw in the hallway (and even those alone in their classrooms) were given the baby to hold in their shirts.

this was cute and endearing. then...

we'd gone upstairs to do writing workshop and were passing a class of second graders. he stuffed the bear up his shirt and then stood spread-eagle style and started moaning. "oh, oh, oh, oh, oh" shaking, as the bear fell out.
"my baby!" he cried with pure, excited joy (the kid will one day win an oscar).
i distracted him as quickly as i could, but it just wasn't fast enough.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"so, class, what do you know about police?"

today our local police officer is talking to the kindergarteners. as we were getting the children ready for the assembly we asked them what a police officer did. one of my little ones began chatting away about beers.

as they lined up to go he said, "mrs. lipstick, i know about police officers. they put you in jail if you drink too much beers. just like my daddy. he drank too much beers and so they put him in jail. and my mom was so mad. she said, 'i don't want to sleep in the room with you!' so he had to sleep on the, on the, what do you say, in the sala?"

"on the couch in the living room?"

"yeah, that. so my dad had to sleep on the couch until he stopped drinking beers. but he really likes beers. and when he drank beers his truck smelled like so many beers. and my mom went to the jail and said, 'get outta that jail!' and my uncle came from new york city and said, 'STOP DRINKING THOSE BEERS!'. my dad likes beers. i really missed him when he was in jail. there were three of them there, my uncle, another guy, and my dad. but only my dad went to jail. they put the handcuffs on him. did you know that the security officers can look like police men?
has that ever happened to you? that's my story. tell me your story."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

wandering eyes and common sense

we're currently in the middle of giving a spelling assessment to our first grade classes to see where they stand on their knowledge of the 100 high frequency words first graders should know by the end of the year. this is typically a fairly painful. we quiz the students on 25 words a day, which doesn't sound bad, but since they are only expected to know half of the words we're asking them to spell words they haven't learned yet.

this doesn't phase some children, like the little one on my case load who wanted to high five after each and every word even when she just wrote the letter 'b' for the word because. but no matter how many times we explain they are not suppose to know all these words there are always some children who become overwhelmed by the idea of getting some of them wrong.

i sat beside one of my kiddos to help her track the test or to scribe for her since sometimes her handwriting gets in the way of us realizing she knows how to spell a word. as i helped her track i noticed the boy beside her starting at her paper and then frantically scribbling on his own paper.

seriously? he sits between her and the smartest girl in the class. if he is going to choose to copy one of them and he chooses my friend, well... that tell us more about him than the results of the spelling test will. i let him keep going for a few words and then gave him the evil eye.

at the end his paper matched hers for the most part. although he probably could spell the words like he, mother, make, my and here, he had instead decided that my little one, who was writing with crazy confidence clearly knew the words better than he did. so like her, he wrote m4 for my. except that i know her 4s equal ys, for him, it just looks like m4.

perhaps it's not the cheating that bothers me as much as the fact he didn't check to see if his friend's answers could possibly be correct or not. he had a chance to make this a multiple choice test with only two answers. for the word make- is it spelled make or km? now, he knows the word make starts with /m/, so one would think he could choose the right answer. apparently not.

at least we have 2 more years to teach him test taking strategies before he takes state standardized testing.

goodness gracious.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

an excuse for me to talk about my trip to greece...

one of the professors who led my study abroad in greece (imagine 6 weeks being led through greece by a classics professor, a byzantine art professor, a philosophy professor and a woman who worked at the met- pure intellectual heaven) just published a new book.

on our trip we all adored this man and could listen to him lecture forever as we strolled through the very streets of the acropolis socrates himself strolled.

he mentions in the article that one of his biggest problems teaching western philosophy in asia was the cultural difference in approaching teachers:

I would try to run my class like I would here at W&L,” he says, “where we have a good exchange and bright students raise sizzling questions. That’s what keeps us alive. Not so in the East. The problem, which I had discovered earlier when teaching in Hong Kong, is that students in the East won’t talk. They see asking the teacher a question as an insult because it means the teacher hasn’t been clear. And while I did sometimes get the beginning of a hesitant question from the monks, they were very much like my students in Hong Kong.”

we have to take the same cultural consideration in our elementary school classrooms. this is something many of us struggle with in our multi-cultured classrooms. some children talk all the time and some don't talk at all. it is interesting to hear about the challenge from a college-level perspective.

my greatest fear

my greatest fear as a teacher had been, until yesterday, being approached by parents about why i had called child protective services about them. until yesterday i'd never had that happen. i'd had one student tell me, for his mother, that i needed to mind my own business. i've had another parent accuse me of getting his car repossessed because i called cps (which i didn't do so i'm not sure how he decided that his car being repossessed= his child's teacher calling cps). that was a fun one.
but i'd never actually been approached by a parent who wanted to know why i called cps. for some reason the idea of this terrified me. it's suppose to be confidential, but what would you do if a parent came in, angry and upset? i'm a terrible liar.

and then, on monday, it happened. my stomach dropped when he appeared in the doorway. it happened so fast there wasn't time to call an administrator or even get out the words "i don't know what you're talking about"

and it wasn't as horrible as i thought it would be. it wasn't attacking, it wasn't accusing, it was just concern, wanting someone to listen, wanting to let us know he cared. by the end i think my coteacher and i felt like it was good that we'd called cps, but also really good that the parent cared enough to come talk to us. it's a loving family who cares about their children and is willing to accept advice from the outside. i think in the end the children are safer and we're more on the same page with the parent. i still don't know if i ever want to have that conversation again. i need to work on my poker face.

Monday, December 8, 2008

bathroom, yes or no?

today, in the middle of a read aloud, my bff looked at me and asked,

mrs lipstick, did you use the bathroom?

did you pee? yes or no?

do you need to pee? yes or no?

did you use the bathroom!!

i think he was reflecting on a conversation he's had previously at home, but i was a tad embarrassed it was directed toward me. luckly i don't think any of the kids heard.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

2 more points for our calendar. and then i'll be off my soap box (for now)

- It is possible to save a lot of money by cutting the intersession program but keeping our calendar.

-If we keep the intersession program we could use it to meet the Federal Mandate of Response to Intervention which was added to IDEA in 2004. This could be a low cost way of implementing this program that counties across the country are struggling with because the money for RTI is not suppose to come from the special education budget.

if you work at my school...

I'm putting my letters to the school board members in the mail today. If you are interested in getting names and addresses of our school board representatives let me know. I'm also happy to send you what I wrote and the talking points I used to point out why year-round calendar benefits our kids. I just focused on the calendar itself and not the benefits of intersession, which of course, is huge, and you could write about forever.

Things you could include in the letter:

-Our kids have less time over the summer to forget what we taught them. We don't have to spend the first month of school completely reteaching everything.

-Our kids don't have the entire summer to be away from English speakers, academic vocabulary, and school-related activities.

-Our families can travel during our breaks to go back to their countries instead of leaving during the academic year.

-We have more time to reflect on certain kids during our intersession breaks. It makes us better teachers and reduced our stress level.

-Our families are very stressed right now with the economy. Being away from school the entire summer would put our kids in unhealthy situations at home.

-We have to get everyone to pass the SOLs by 2014. Since this is statistically impossible we are currently doing pretty well making AYP. We have to work magic, and our calendar is helping us do that. The full summer break could really hurt our children's academic retention, which would impact test scores. (Ok, if you write about this maybe don't mention the statistically impossible part... forgive my bitterness).

Anything else?? Anything you disagree with?

The other schools have parents writing letters for their concerns, but so few of our parents even know what the county is currently discussing. They don't have the resources to be heard, but we do. Write! Write! Write!

getting specific

when i entered my afternoon classroom yesterday my bff was sitting in the thinking spot (time-out with encouraged reflection). his teacher explained that she caught him pummelling his fists into his friend in line.

i took him into the hallway with the social story i'd written a few weeks ago about not hurting our friends. the minute we sat down he said, "hey! i love that book! but i didn't put my hands around his neck! i just really hit him a lot"

social story worked- he didn't put his hands around his friend's neck. next time i need to make a much longer list of specific actions he may not do.

we added pummelling fists into a friend to things that will make his friends sad.

"ok!" he said happily and was ready to re-join the group.

i'm clearly still learning how to adjust my logic for high functioning autism.

Friday, December 5, 2008

deep, deep depression with a hint of an immature tantrum

Our county is going through severe budget cuts at the moment and it looks as though we are about to lose our year-round school program. I am devastated. We all are. Along with losing our calendar other changes across the county will be that our class sizes will go up, they are going to cut the funding for supplies, cut positions, increase our case loads, and not give us our cost of living pay increase.
To be honest, when given a choice, I'll live with all the other changes, including keeping the same salary to be able to keep our year round program.

I'm working on writing letters to the school board listing the reasons they should keep us as year round. It feels futile and I fear I sound whiny.

Truthfully, part of me IS whiny. I want to throw a kindergarten tantrum, kick my legs, yell, pout, sit down and refuse to move. And of course, I am whiny because of what I wont say in my letter-

What am I going to do with that long summer break? I'll go out of my mind! (Not to mention what the kids will do- their parents can't afford summer camps and fun day programs). I'll have to get a summer job- like at a book store with college kids home for the summer. I don't want to have the whole summer off. I want to teach!!
And we'll have to teach through October. October. The most glorious month to have a 2 week break. The crisp autumn air, the tourist have left the city, plane tickets are lower, and we've worked hard for about 12 weeks. October is a great time to relax, reflect on our kiddos, and come back refreshed for the craziness that is November and December.

We're all walking around in shock. It's happened so fast and I don't think our families even realize the county is discussing it. I don't know if we even have a plan to deal with how to tell our families.

I feel like walking around kicking the ground with my hands in my pockets for awhile. This sucks.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

respect, anger, frustration- warning- rant

When I read Time Magazine's piece on Michelle Rhee my stomach tightened, I had trouble breathing, and I found myself wondering exactly how long I'll stay in teaching. If this is where the country is headed- if this is going to be our philosophy on education, I'm not sure I can stay in the field.

It took me a bit to put my finger on exactly what bothered me about the article. Outraged at some of her comments on teachers wasting their time on morning meetings I wanted to scream at her about research-based teaching strategies that are proven to work. I wanted to yell about how she doesn't even understand what good, proven teaching is and that she is going to ruin us.

But I realized that all of those little comments reflect what bothers me the most- her attitude toward teachers and the teaching profession. She gives no respect to teachers- and is proud of it. She talks about teachers as though we got into the profession for a cushy job and put no thought into the welfare of our kids. I'm sure when the district messes up the payroll and teachers go yet another month without pay, while working in a building that's falling apart, for a boss who doesn't know anything about the job he or she is overseeing, they are in their career because they are lazy. Or just "nice" as she describes them, as though the word disgusts her.

I know there are bad teachers in DC. Yet so little is in place to make good teachers- and Rhee doesn't seem to be planning on making it better. My own principal has commented that she can make anyone a good teacher- and I believe that. If you work at my school you are given support, guidance, coaching, advice, and the materials you need to do your job. You will work hard, you have to be willing to learn, but you will grow every day to become a better teacher. We have a structure in place to do that- and most of that comes from the respect and trust my principal gives to our staff.

I believe it should be as hard to be a teacher as it is to be a doctor. Yet we need many teachers and the only way to recruit masses of new ones year after year is to either lower standards or to make the job more attractive. Since one of these is more expensive in the short term, well, we know what has happened.

No one is going to read the Time article about Rhee and think, "wow, I really want to be a teacher!" Nothing she says makes anyone want to give up the prospects of a high paying job to go work in the trenches with no respect (I myself found myself thinking about law school once again). She makes those who teach sound like bumbling idiots. Who wants to sign up to be put into that category?

Rhee's off-handed comments about what she sees in her schools (which she mocks in the article) show her lack of knowledge and respect for the profession. Her comment about morning meeting really struck home. We do not do morning meetings for fun. We do not do them because, hey, this is a great way to waste instructional time. Morning meetings are a proven strategy to build community in a classroom, which then encourages children to take academic risks (like, you know, trying to read when they are scared to fail). This strategy is based on developmental psychology and has been studied in depth by many educators. It is a particularly important strategy for students coming from low income families. It allows them to feel safe in school, breaks down barriers, teaches cultural norms, sets high expectations, and allows children a transition time between their chaotic home life and school. Without morning meetings classes are more likely to have behavior problems throughout the day and have students not as engaged in their lessons. Yet Rhee, who does not have a background in education, does not seem to have taken the time to learn the meaning of this method. She walked into a classroom- saw what appeared to be students sitting around "not learning" (they always are- we embed curriculum like crazy in those meetings- I could always give you my SOLs for each meeting) and assumed the teacher was being incompetent.

Another of Rhee's comments was that good teachers are "in a hurry". The educational term is pacing- (Fundamentals of Education 101- if she'd taken an education course). Good pacing is essential to good teaching. It is moving quickly, not leaving any down time, using every opportunity for learning. Yet it is also knowing your children, responding to their needs and altering your instruction based on your on the spot assessments. Teachers who are "in a hurry" rarely take the time to access, re-teach, and re-evaluate. Teachers with good pacing know where they are, move quickly, and aren't afraid to move backward if needed. Rhee probably observed good pacing, yet not knowing what it was now will have all DC teachers wanting to look like they are in a hurry. Not exactly what DC needs.

I had a lot of respect for Rhee, or at least, some respect, before the article. I even wondered if I'd want to teach in DCPS when I decide I'm ready for another challenge. Yet I cannot imagine working under someone so far removed from the reality of day to day, and who has no intention of learning about it.

I would love to see Rhee come visit us. Our school is not far from the district and our population is perhaps even more in need than many DC schools. (My cousin/roommate did TFA in the district for years and was always shocked that my kids seemed so much needier than hers). Rhee should see how my county and my principal nurture teachers, embraces families, and promote good, reflective teaching. I'd be happy to show her our test scores and how we've improved as a school. I'd be happy to talk to her about what makes us dedicated teachers, and what makes us end a lesson and immediately wonder what we could have done better. I really believe that if DC wants to make improvements they need to observe school systems like mine and those around us who are, for the most part, doing this education thing right.