The two week holiday is now over, and we teachers return to the salt mine of teaching high school on Monday, January 8. Tomorrow, Saturday, is January 6, Russian Christmas Eve. I never hear it mentioned here, though when I lived in Berwick, PA, I did. In fact, there was an Orthodox church right down the street from me. Here, the trees and decorations go down quickly, like the day after New Year’s. Ironically, the decorations, music, and such are appearing as early as the day after Halloween. I enjoyed the longer time devoted to the season in Pennsylvania. Anyway, if you want to learn something about Russian Christmas, go to this link: http://tinymce.moxiecode.cp/mce_temp_url

I feel I used the holidays well, though, as usual, the guilt-ridden demon side of me cries out I squandered the time. However, objectively, I must say the break did me some good. I did some serious marketing for my books, spent time with friends, played some music, and did a good bit of reading. I also accomplished a lot of work that my publisher, Pelican, required for my children’s book, Jim Limber Davis: A Black Orphan in the Confederate White House. I was so excited to see it already posted on Amazon! I look forward to presenting this story in schools.

The school year, like the seasons, turns on its soltices, the next major one being the GEE in March. (Graduate Exit Exam.) The god of the standardized test speaks once again and bids us submit to the rituals of his religion. Administrators are his priests (The GEE must be a man, as I do not think a woman could be stupid and cruel enough to design such a thing), the students are the initiates, and we teachers, well, maybe we are the sacrificial lambs? In the upcoming weeks, many teachers will work themselves into a state of exhaustion and a near nervous breakdown as they worry about how well their students will do. I’ve found that no matter how well you teach test-taking skills, if the students don’t have information stored in them, they’re still not going to do well on the test. They know how to take the test, but there’s nothing you can test them on. I must ponder this topic some more, though I fear if I worry too much about it, I’ll drive myself mad. After all, it seems no one notices a teacher when he or she thinks these days. It’s getting the students through the tests that matters.