It’s Thursday. My students had spent two days testing. In fact, they test every Friday, with a lot of heavy instruction in between. As a result, they’ve grown academically. Yes, in fact I highly expect some nice growth and high achievement scores this year. I’ve also grown as a teacher: learning how to use rubrics more effectively and learning to document growth at even deeper levels thanks to some pretty awesome fellow teachers.
Within this lies one problem. With TKES and the pressures of standardized testing I’m losing my voice as an educator. I’ve always taken great pride in my classroom and most of all my love for creating a strong classroom culture: one in which children are happy and excited to come to school. Not because they can sit around and play on their IPhones. I am not a proponent of permissive teaching. But, a place students can call home because a loving and caring teacher awaits their arrival.
This past Thursday, after two days of testing I decided to do something I hadn’t dared all year. A classroom game day. I brought Scrabble, Dominoes, and Apples to Apples. I told the students that they could bring in a snack and drink and sent a note to their parents via Remind. (This wasn’t on the lesson plan). But. I knew my students needed it. Why? Because I know kids.
The next day, the students were thrilled! They brought in cupcakes, drinks galore, and most of all smiles!
One student in fourth period, dared me to play a game of UNO (he was a champion UNO player afterall). Yes! This made my year! Game on!
We played. With fourteen or more kids playing they made me take the extra cards and cried, “We got you this time, Mrs. Farmer!” “Ha! This is for all those check point quizzes! This is for all the stressful writing sessions! Ha! Ha!”
I loved that they felt open enough to be honest with me, and for the first time all year I saw many relax for the first time in my class.
The funny part is in the mist of all this, my assistant principal walks in for my summative assessment for TKES! (This is the big kahoona of assessments–you just never know when it’s coming). As I sit with passionate UNO players surrounding me, one yells out, “We’re playing UNO- ELA style!”
Funny enough, this child was trying to protect me, so we could continue.
Thankfully, I was not observed, saved for another day.
The point is when you’re a passionate teacher, when you are in tune with your students–you know what you need to do (to keep them motivated, happy, and thriving). This is all built on human connection that no piece of technology can provide, but is essential to academic and healthy growth of children.
TKES and LKES–testing–does not support the passionate parents, teachers, and leaders who care for kids and the whole child (spirit, mind, and body).
Now, as my educational ramblings come to a desivive point I’d like to shout the following: “Have no Fear!” Build rapport with your students! Always have them leave your class knowing they are more than a test score to you, and no matter the final outcome, you are proud to be their teacher.
Offer your students your best! Let your students always be your driving force!
Stay passionate. Kind and compassionate for the rest of your days. Offer extordinary learning experiences built on relationship building and trust! In that way you can protect the very thing that has been entrusted to you: your students’ hearts, souls, and minds.
Stay passionate teachers, administrators, leaders, and parents. Your students and children need you.