This Teacher Tuesday I come to you with this–know the students by name and not by number. To read my last Teacher Tuesday CLICK HERE.
Ahh, yes! Testing week! The week when all of your efforts and hard work come to complete fruition! That is the hope anyway. How sweet it is when it all works out! Students are deemed “high-performing” or “smart” and the teacher gets high praise. In this scenario, all is just peachy in the world.
The flip side of that is tension, anxiety, and the curve ball question(s) the students nor the teacher anticipated being on the test. After the the question is read, people are left saying “What the whaaaa…?” accompanied with a cold sweat and sick stomach.
What I practiced was all in vain!
Through My Child’s Eyes
Yesterday, I picked up my daughter from school. Dori is in third grade. It is her first year experiencing state-mandated testing. She got in the vehicle and the first thing she said was…
Today was my first day of KPREP!
I asked her how it went and she was pretty positive about it. She said she was able to answer all of her questions without running out of time, but there were a few that she didn’t know. I told her that was okay and that we will never know all the answers on a test.
We had also been working SO hard on short answer. She had gotten to a point that it was like clockwork. Each night, she would come home, and we would do a short answer. Based on the scoring guide, she was scoring twos (the highest score) on most of her writings. She felt really good going into it. On the way home, I asked her how she thought she scored on the short answer.
I think I got a 0 on the first one and maybe a 1 on the second one.
My response could have been so much better.
You are just kidding, right? The short answer is what we have practiced all year!
At that point, Dori started bawling.
Please don’t be disappointed in me.
She was crushed by my words, and I realized that this was a “father fail” for the ages. I was just attempting to push her, but it made her feel that she had fallen short. 🙁 A true testament to the stresses of test week.
You see, I had fallen victim to focusing more on the numbers that Dori might score rather than the beautiful person she is inside and out. After an apology and further discussion about the short answer questions, I realized the rigor of the KPREP short answer questions exceeded the examples we had been practicing nightly. That is not to fault anyone, but those unexpected questions or extensions to certain questions seem to always surface every year. Couple that with students’ test anxiety, and it is the perfect storm for a whirlwind of emotions that are just simply unneeded!
I talked to Leah about it later, and she said that Dori felt good about her efforts and the fact that she did not run out of time. I should have been happy with that and should not have started talking about scores or numbers.
Cards of Encouragement
The school does this wonderful activity where for each of the four days of testing they give families four note cards. Four family members or friends write encouraging words, so that the students have something positive to read before testing each of the four days. Sometimes when Dori is unsure about something she panics and completely shuts down. She said that yesterday the one thing that kept her from giving up was her mother’s card of encouragement.
As a teacher, encouragement and love should be at the forefront of any teaching philosophy, because if that is present, then rapport with students is built and there is a direct correlation with that and student performance.
You attract for bees with honey than vinegar.
I have never been of the mindset that teaching should be drill camp. This generation of students, and even my own kids, do not respond well to it. Besides, it is just not my nature to be the “hammer down” type of teacher. Let compassion and relationships be the foundation, and more times than not, everything else will take care of itself.
My mother, and “Gran-Gran” to my kids, wrote on her card of encouragement something that Dori loved and something that is a mantra of mine when teaching my students…
Do your best but don’t stress!
This is an interesting read on Finland’s education system and how they take a different approach to student success CLICK HERE. I might add that this post isn’t intended to have low expectations for students or kids, but the emphasis that there is more to life than just a number.
For example, last night Dori and Holly were running through the house like wild horses. They were just being kids. Somehow Holly’s fingers were shut in the door, and she was sobbing uncontrollably. My first instinct was to scold Dori, but the look on her face told me that she felt bad enough already. Later Dori came out of the bedroom with this to give Holly…
This made me smile and also put things in such perspective for me as a father and educator. Good people with great work ethics and attitudes, who offer respect and compassion, far exceed any number. Love and appreciate people for their personality and uniqueness and not by number. If the first part is in place, all will be just fine in the world.