The Pigs and the Scale (or The Fable of State Testing) 

The farmer wants his pigs to be fat. Of course he does. The fatter the better.

He became concerned when he realized that, even though he fed them all the same, some pigs were fatter than others. The problem, he concluded, was that he wasn’t weighing the pigs enough. So he began to weigh the pigs a few times a year. Still, while some of the pigs were getting plenty fat, many of them were still skinny or, at least, not fat enough.

The farmer decided that the best thing to do to solve the problem would be to weigh them again and again throughout the year. So, the farmer invested a lot of his resources in weighing. He developed new types of scales. He began keeping complicated records of the pigs’ weights. He devised a system where he could compare the weights of the pigs not just individually but between each different pen and also based on what color each pig was. All the while, the pigs weren’t getting any fatter. The only thing that seemed to be getting fatter was the wallet of the scale-maker.

So, the farmer added more weigh-ins. And in the days and weeks leading up to each weigh-in, he held practice weigh-ins for the pigs. One day, the pigs were looking longingly at the food piled up around their pens. “No time to waste sitting around eating,” the farmer said. “I need you to practice weighing. Here are some tips on how to make yourself seem heavier.” The only weigh-in strategy that seemed to help at all was eating a good breakfast.

But even on the days that one particular group of pigs wasn’t weighing-in or practicing weighing-in, the farmer didn’t like them to eat. Pigs are noisy eaters, you know. They might disturb the others who are weighing-in or practicing weighing-in. Besides, there was no one to feed them, anyway. All the workers on the farm were overseeing the weighing of the pigs or the practicing of the weighing of the pigs in some of the other pens, so the pigs that weren’t being weighed or practicing being weighed were herded over to one particular area and told to sit still, be quiet, and wait.

After the last weigh-in of the year, everybody relaxed. But the pigs wondered, “Why bother to eat now, if we aren’t going to even be weighed anymore?” The farmer told them that the weighing was only to help them get fatter. But the pigs didn’t believe him. They knew that the scale was much more important than the food. They knew that it’s the weighing that makes a pig fatter. They had been taught that well.“

*Class size is an important determinant of student outcomes, and one that can be directly determined by policy. All else being equal, increasing class sizes will harm student outcomes.

* The evidence suggests that increasing class size will harm not only children’s test scores in the short run, but also their long-run human capital formation. Money saved today by increasing class sizes will result in more substantial social and educational costs in the future.

* The payoff from class-size reduction is greater for low-income and minority children, while any increases in class size will likely be most harmful to these populations.

17 Terribly Rotten Things Teachers Do to Ruin Students' Lives

We recently read about all the terrible things parents do to make their kids’ lives miserable, like making them take showers, wipe their noses and wear clothes even when they don’t feel like it. Unforgiveable, really. And that made us wonder, could teachers be even worse? We had to find out. So we asked the teachers on our Facebook page to share some of the horrible things they do every day to ruin kids’ lives. Read it and weep.

1. “I ask them to write in complete sentences, even though THAT TAKES WAY TOO LONG.” —Sue

2. “I had the temerity to suggest that the proper response to a teacher-provided doughnut was ‘thank you,’ not 'I WANTED one with sprinkles.’ ” —Lori

3. “I make my students walk all the way across the classroom for a dictionary even though I could just spell the word for them, which would be WAY EASIER.” —Tabby

4. “I require them to write their names on their papers if they would like to receive credit for their work. WHAT am I thinking???” —Karen

5. “I make them take off their hats in my classroom, even when they have really BAD hat hair!” —Laura

6. “I ask them to begin sentences with a capital letter and end them with correct punctuation even though 'people don’t always do that anymore.’ (Sounds like I’m mean AND old-fashioned).” —Sherry

7. “I won’t let them hang like insane monkeys from the coat hooks. I’m just rotten, I tell you!” —Amy

8. “I require my students to read for 20 to 30 minutes every night of the week, even though it 'totally ruins their weekends!’ ” —Kathleen

9. “I make my students 'waste’ their time rereading and editing their own writing even though it’s SO BORING.” —Kiley

10. “I made my students quiet down before dismissing them at the bell. It robbed them of 12 precious seconds of their passing time, which caused them to be tardy to their subsequent classes. One kid was 10 minutes late, which was ALL MY FAULT.” —Erin

11. “I make my students bring a pencil to class, even though they can’t be expected to remember EVERYTHING.” —Karen 

12. “I make my students take their spelling tests in cursive, since we spent the first half of the year learning it—which is 'JUST CRAZY because cursive has nothing to do with spelling.’ ” —Selena

13. “I won’t let my students listen to music on their smartphones during class even though EVERY other teacher in the WHOLE world lets them.” —Phend

14. “I wore school colors on our school’s Spirit Day. Turns out I’m ’waaaay too old to celebrate things like that.’ ” —Erin

15. “I made a classroom rule that no one is allowed to go the bathroom more than twice in one class period. Apparently, they are all going to pee their pants. I’m horrible!” —Em

16. “I make my second graders write a rough draft and a final copy of their writing. Oh the humanity! Kids pout and huff and puff every time and it STILL doesn’t change my mind.” —Abby

17. “I expect my students to do work during group project time, even though there are MORE IMPORTANT things they need to talk about."—Paula



Any honest discussion between teachers must begin with the understanding that each of us mingles the good with the bad. One student may experience the epiphany of a lifetime, while her neighbor drifts quietly off to sleep. In the classroom, it’s never pure gold or pure tin; we’re all muddled alloys.
I can’t kick it out of my mind that every child needs a champion, every quitter needs a coach, every failure needs a fresh start. Even as my frustration hits its wall, as my energy runs on fumes, as the easy option to give up calls me to play – even then I cannot quit. Quitting is not my job. My job is to try to influence every mind that enters my room. Every day. Every student. Every second.
10 Things to Do With All Your Teacher Appreciation Mugs

When it comes to Teacher Appreciation, it’s truly the thought that counts. But when the thought is your 137th apple- or teddy-bear-themed coffee mug, you have to get creative. Here’s what we suggest for the latest additions to your burgeoning collection.

1. Give them back. We’re only kind of kidding. Many teachers have enough mugs for every kid in their class. So why not pass them out and have a tea party, Downton Abbey–style?

2. Create an art installation in the teacher’s lounge. Get your colleagues onboard too. Call it #hashtag, and when your principal asks what it’s about, sigh and say that obviously she doesn’t appreciate modern art.

3. Spray-paint those suckers, drill holes in the bottoms and use them as Pinterest-inspired planters, each with a single blossom carefully chosen to match your decor.

4. Alternatively, just use them as wineglasses. Because your real ones are broken, and, you know, priorities.

5. Donate them but not before writing your initials on the bottom in permanent marker. If you ever get the same mug back, take it as a sign from the universe that you are indeed the world’s most awesome teacher.

6. Start an Instagram feed filled with selfies of you drinking your morning cup of joe. #yourmugwithmugs #instasuccess

7. Fill them with instant soup packets, keep them in your car and hand them to people who may need a warm meal. No, seriously, can we please do this? Let’s start a movement. #teacherspayitforward

8. Host a party for your colleagues. Have everyone bring their favorite gifted mug plus a $5 Starbucks card. Vote on the best mug and the winner gets all the GCs!

9. Stack them in a pyramid and have a student remove the top one every day. Instant countdown until the last day of school!

10. Smile, say thank you, and write a note telling your student how much you loved it. Because even if it goes straight into the cabinet with the others, you know it came from the heart. Or more likely, the dollar store. But also the heart. 

Warm fuzzies all around, friends! Happy Teacher Appreciation Week.


I challenge anyone who has not recently taught in a Title I school to do so for just one day to see how they view teaching; I especially invite those who spout about how poorly teachers do their job educating our nation’s children. I would love to see footage of them demonstrating the supposedly obvious methods by which miracles occur.


Teaching is harder than working in high tech.


Ronda Matthews: “What Testing Looks Like”

A 5th grade teacher explains the reality of testing. Don’t miss this one. 


From “That Kind of Teacher”:

“Exhilarated. Nervous. Proud. Terrified. Ready.

I felt all that and then some when I received my first ‘you’re hired’ call. I would be teaching Freshman English at a nearby district, one that was known for its underprivileged students and poor community. From the outside, it was a bit reminiscent of an inner-city school, rife with troubled kids and insufficient resources, with a side of violence. But I could do this. I would be their Michelle Pfeiffer and they would be my Dangerous Minds.

So new, so naive.”

Read the rest of Stephanie Jankowski’s blog entry at http://bit.ly/1tIvIOh

2. We are communicators, quick decision makers, and creative problem solvers. Teaching is more than lecturing. It is often like being an orchestra director of beginning musicians. We have to be able to have a group working on task while sitting quietly with another small group of four of five pupils. We have to be able to create a working environment where a couple dozen people share an open space. It has to be done in a caring way that supports every child. This is not easy. Teachers might have to choose over Suzy’s bloody nose, Rupert’s hurt feelings, Trevor’s emotional, tear-filled crisis about a math problem, all while keeping the rest of the class at work. If you think this type of scenario never happens, think again. In primary grades some variation of this happens daily. (Two notes about this. First: Blood trumps everything, even vomit. Second: The crazier the situation is, the more likely a fire drill is about to occur.)