Sounds vaguely obscene, doesn’t it?

FINALLY! I have a working computer (a most excellent deal from and it really screams) and my net connection is working again. Dang that dang Norton. I swear, I’m betting that almost all the antivirus software out there has been secretly created by virus-makers, in order to make us so frustrated with anti-virus software, that we shut it off and leave our machines unprotected. I know that’s pretty convoluted logic, but it’s been a long day wrastling with my computer and not teaching.

I was at a district scoring session.

Cue the Twilight Zone theme.

Our district is trying to get out ahead of the curve with regard to the coming common core standards. Out new supe got the board to give him 6 mil to jack up test scores, and it looks like we’re trying to game the test in advance of it even being created (which is about 2014). Much of the money was spent on what we call TOSA’s (pronounced TOE-sah): Teachers on Special Assignment. These are teachers that leave the classroom for a year or two or three, and move up to the DO and try to get the rest of us to go along with whatever new program the district is pushing. Sorry, I’m being a bit glib, but I think you know what I mean. A notable exception is the TOSA for technology, who usually spends a lot of time training people and holding hands after.

This year there are a bunch of new TOSA’s for “Learning and Achievement.”

They’re piloting a new district benchmark assessment. The writing feature only asks for a paragraph. Yeah for that! But it is still writing that has to be scored. And that means a group of teachers crowded together with stacks of papers and rubrics and lots of paper taped to the walls. (And food. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been there.)

Our new rubric follows the coming core standards (so the TOSA’s say, I haven’t checked; that’s their job), and goes 6-point, instead of the current 4-point stylie that forces one to use pluses and minuses to gain some degree of control. SO that’s good.

I don’t know if any of my loyal readers have ever had the privilege of having to attend one of these sessions, but in our district, for as long as I have have been here (19 years), it has always been the same. Whether it was back in the day, with our head of  Instructional Services (now called Learning and Achievement), “pulling anchor papers” for us to “calibrate” with, or now with the TOSA’s trying to streamline the process and herd the cats better, the day has always followed the same format:

8:00 – Introductions. Usually this means chatting over the breakfast snacks (this time – fruit salad that actually had fruit you wanted to eat, bagels, Yuban… no pastries) until at least 8:15. Gotta hand it to the noobs (this was their first session); they got us to this stage by 8:10. Then it’s the usual name, grade, subject, school. I always consider myself lucky when I hear the litany of the various subjects some people have to teach: “I teach reading, ELA, AP Lit, and Yearbook,” or at our other, very much smaller middle school, “…home ec, drama, 7th and 8th grade English.” Whoa Nellie.

8:15-8:30 – Goals for the Day. Boy Howdy, this one’s going to have to be continued. When we have verbiage in the agenda for this section like, “Talk about implications of results…” That ain’t gonna be done in no 15 minutes.

To be continued.