Sunday, April 17, 2011

RE: Carpe Chicken...humor about the world of education

A Day No Chickens Would Die

If you’re ever wondering why our children aren’t doing better on their state test scores, perhaps I’ve found the answer for you. Chickens and roosters. Let me explain.

In my not-so-distant past I was one teacher among legions responsible for administering seemingly unremarkable state-mandated tests, except this time around things got a wee bit more interesting.

It was late in the school year and the seniors hadn’t pulled a senior prank…yet. This was the day they decided to do it – testing day. By “it” I mean they dropped off a mixture of approximately 40 chickens and roosters, left off some feed, the critters manufactured fertilizer, and let the poultry games begin!

Now, I love a good prank and I actually thought this one was relatively innocuous, even funny, especially since we live in a rural community where we love our farm animals in a perfectly appropriate way. However, it was the aftermath that was a challenge because we needed to locate a temporary holding pen that worked for the creatures – fast – seeing as how the youngsters had taken it upon themselves, for reasons that we didn’t want to know, to round up the livestock.

Alas, the enclosure that “worked” was right behind my room because I had a portable equipped with an aesthetically pleasing cyclone fence, ideal for non-free range roosters and chickens. The way we had it figured was that we only needed to corral our feathered friends for a short period of time until Animal Control arrived. In point of fact, this “short period of time” turned out to be about six hours later or right after the last exit exam was collected and the collective students exited.

Unfortunately, there was plenty of “non-standard” activity happening in the designated poultry pen with real, live chickens flapping around, doing the chicken dance, while I was standardly testing the students. It was noisy, raucous, and out of control and, for once, I’m talking about outside my classroom. Roosters were cock-a-doodle-dooing, chickens were scaling the fence, starring in their very own pullet prison flick, and they were all fighting amongst themselves.

Again, I’m talking about my Old-MacDonald-Had-a-Farm-charges, not my non-feathery ones. Did I mention that I was administering a state-mandated and required exam to students? Okay, I thought so. As a side note, should they fail, they must continue to attempt to pass the “go” that is this examination before they may journey out into the world, diploma clutched firmly in their talons.

Little had I known when I got up this particular morning that I would be operating a chicken farm whereupon I had to yell out my window every 10 minutes, “Leave the chickens alone!” to which students replied, as though it explained everything, “But I’m chasing the chickens!” And they say youth isn’t motivated. Did I mention I was administering a very important high stakes exam to the students? All right. Just checking.

So, along about what felt like days later Animal Control showed up – with a net. I kid you not. You have not lived until you’ve witnessed a male of about 60 years of age utilizing a net in his attempt to capture, control, and contain dozens of fowl. It was our little burg’s answer to Pamplona’s “Running of the Bulls,” ours being deemed, the “Running of the Chickens” who, as it turns out, are pretty darned quick with their short burst flying, scrabble walking technique.

Eventually, the Animal Control officer met with success (in a limited sort of way), mainly because several of his targets had actually gone AWOL, up and over the hill that was nestled next to my portable. At the end of the day, as I was organizing the tests, my thoughts, and any shreds of sanity that may have accidentally clung to me, I realized something.

If the public could really see what educators deal with on a daily basis they would have an unparalleled insight into the educational realities, thereby eliminating any doubt as to whether teachers are earning their keep. At all times we’re expected to perform our duties at a high level, even in the face of the unexpected and, the majority of the time, we manage to accomplish that feat with great aplomb. I guess you could say we have a can-do, “Carpe Chicken” attitude.