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The word “break” in “Spring Break” applies only when you are an adolescent with zero responsibilities and very rich parents. So far, I have deep cleaned the entire house (and if you don’t believe me, ask my back which is still sore from scrubbing the tub/shower), done four five loads of laundry (hello, clean sheets), brushed about a pound of hair off of the dog, and graded 28 poetry anthology projects (on Friday night, after everyone else in the entire building had left). I still have approximately 156 essays to grade, more job applications to fill out for this summer, and a to-do list of errands that could span the American-Atlantic coastline.

To the person who believes that teachers have an easy job because they get the same breaks as the students including summers off: explain to me how grading 156 essays constitutes as relaxing in any way, shape, or form.

I can lead a horse to water; I can demonstrate how to drink; I can explain the mechanics and scientific evidence for how and why drinking water will prevent dehydration and death, but I’ll be damned if I can make that horse drink to save his life.

Despite the fervent reviewing, reteaching, and practicing of writing and reading skills I have been incorporating into my weekly routines in my classroom, I am still receiving papers that do not have a thesis, have no clear beginning, middle, or ending, and that do not address the question posed in the prompt whatsoever. It’s like when they sit down to respond to the prompt, everything they have been practicing in class leaves their heads and they revert back to what they’ve been allowed to do since elementary school (it seems)- i.e. make shit up as quickly as possible so that they can put their heads down and be done with it. I’ve even gone so far as to have them write at the top of their page before they start writing: “Be specific-no vague pronouns. Intro, body, conclusion. Use the question to answer the question in your thesis.” Yet, they do none of this when they start writing.

Not all is lost-praise God! I do see some of them writing better than they were before; I do see some of them reaching pass-plus level instead of just pass; I do see some of them reaching pass rather than fail. However, the kids who really needed the intervention, who really needed the review, who really needed the practice and the hand holding, don’t seem to care to try. How do you make a kid care about passing a standardized test? Isn’t the risk of not graduating enough? You’d think so, but it’s not. The closer we get to May, the more my stomach heaves at the sight of some of their “essays”. I’m afraid they’ll fail, despite having done everything in my power to give them the tools and practice to help them to succeed. I know I’ve been doing and will continue to do everything in my power to help them to pass, but its’ not up to me in the end; it’s up to them to use the tools and skills and advice I’ve helped them to find, use, and practice.  Letting them go out there and do it on their own scares me because I have no control over that.

So, here’s to another month of pushing, prodding, convincing, pleading, and teaching my team of horses to drink water on their own without dying of dehydration, choking, or drowning by accident.

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