‘Twas the day before state testing… and let me tell you I was nothing like I thought it would be.
My class had been in panic mode lately. They have all had some traumatic things happening within their neighborhoods, going through a lot at home, and the state test wasn’t helping with their stress levels. It had gotten pretty bad-two best friends had turned on each other at recess and that ended in a fistfight. It was chaos across the board.
The class felt like it was falling apart all because of a test that doesn’t even effect them personally at the moment. I wanted them to know that no matter what I still believed in them, so I started doing what I do for my friends- I started writing them notes of encouragement, inside jokes, and helpful pointers. The whole purpose was to make my students smile, calm down, and know that we’re still a team and nothing can stop that. I skipped my lunch and started writing away. Personally, it started making me calmer and happier too!
At the end of the day I passed out the envelopes one by one.
“What is it Miss Bush?”
“Is it for my mom?”
“Do we need to get it signed?”
I stayed quiet and kept stating, “Just open it!”
Slowly smiles were showing up on faces, high fives were being exchanged, singing was taking place, and laughter filled the room. We ended with our class meeting. The best friends were sitting by each other. I smiled and told them the basics of state testing: eat your breakfast, go to bed early, bring a healthy snack, and that I will always believe in them. That they were still making me proud… no matter what. You could feel the tension leaving the room and joy creeping back in. I sent them home knowing that no matter what happened they would always make me smile, nothing could change that.
I have seen them problem solve with novel engineering, work in collaborative groups with STEM, build each other up, teach one another, stand up to the bully, get themselves help within school and at home, be brave, strong, and courageous kids who now know how to fail forward. They teach me often.
State test don’t always show that. They can’t measure a students growth mindset. It doesn’t measure the growth of the most challenging student finally learning to use kind words. It doesn’t show their lifestyle problem solving skills, or their community benefiting skill projects, or their insightful genius hour skills. It doesn’t show the growth of the student who finally gain confidence to speak up, and now the whole room stops and listen. It doesn’t show all of their It was hard to see my most insightful student not be able to put his full knowledge into of a topic.
My job won’t be done when the testings over. It will continue on…growing and changing with my students needs-and that’s why I’m a teacher. Learning a curriculum is only part of it, fostering a life long learner is all of it.