Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Failed Sense of Success

With each spring, students and teachers begin the daunting task of standardized assessments to track student progress and teacher effectiveness. This year is no exception. In August, I made the transition into a 4th grade classroom - and although I love my students more than I could imagine - I would jump at the chance to avoid 4th grade standardized testing.  This past week, we began the first round of MAP testing - a computer based standardized test that tests Reading and Math. On Tuesday and Wednesday, we will be eyeball deep in PASS writing assessment. And honestly, I have no idea what they will do.  I do know that I have taught my fanny off all year to prepare students for writing.  But, after Friday's "pre-test,"  I'm not at all confident that their performance will be where it needs to be to receive "Met." 
This "season of testing" brings with it a slew of emotions from students and teachers that those in power will never understand until they have ushered a child out of the room because of stress induced tears, or cleaned up unfortunate accidents that will linger in the memories of those scared to take a test, or tried to explain to a beautifully gifted student that just because they did not meet their target goal, they aren't stupid.

I know in the depths of my soul that I am good at what I do - that I am really good at what I do on a daily basis. But, there is nothing that shakes me to the core than a list of scores with my name attached and a handful of students who dropped a point or two, or missed their target by 1 measley point. I am that student who misses a goal and then questions their ability. Test scores do it to me every year. I wait with my toes curled in my shoes, every muscle tensed, for that first score to roll off of the printer. With every click of the mouse, I wonder, "Did he do it? What do we need to do to grow further?" Today, when the first score rolled off of the presses, I was pleased there was growth, but the target was missed by a hair. I believe in accountability and I do believe in testing, but I want my kids to be able to use the resources I've taught them to use!

Doubt, insecurity, questions - flood my mind. What could I have done better? Where did I lose them? At what point should I have stopped and tried a different tactic? Did I spend too long here, not enough there? How many more days until the next test? Is the project approach really working or did I miss the mark? What class can I take to make myself a better teacher? How can I get my scores to be off the charts like others?

And yet, here I sit on my couch going through all of these emotions, only to discover that - my kids laugh while they learn, my students can podcast, create Haiku Decks, navigate Animoto,  manipulate texts, draw to learn, and a boatload of other things. My kids smile when they see me outside of school. They like me enough to join me at the movies on a Saturday. They wave at their basketball games. They write stories about me. They try over and over and over until they understand. They thank me for choosing to be a teacher. They want me to be their teacher next year.

So, to those in charge of testing, could you create a measurement that would test how well my students can make you laugh, communicate with you about their learning, draw or sculpt the events of a story, create a poem with a complicated rhyme scheme, or anything else that requires 21st century learning skills? If you can, my class will gladly volunteer to pilot the new program. And then, you will have an accurate sense of success in my classroom ,with my students, and with their teacher.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

March Currently

Wow! Didn't realize that it had been an entire month since I last posted. Life has been busy to say the least. I have had 3 interviews for new possible positions - will tell more about that in a later post, traveled out of town for one of those interviews, said a final farewell to my grandfather this week, made a flash of a trip to Louisiana - 1400 miles in 2 days is hard, and have tried to keep up with my classroom. Thank goodness for a student teacher! I was thrilled to see Farley's Currently up this morning to get me back on track. I'm not making in promises about regular postings yet.

Listening:  Saturday morning is the morning that I play catch up with all of my TV from the week.  Love my DVR.  Yes, I'm a fan of the Carrie me some Carrie Bradshaw.  In addition to that, I watch New Girl, Downton Abbey, Gray's Anatomy, and Days of Our Lives ( I know, terrible, right?!)

Loving:  Love my new suitcase my husband surprised me with yesterday.  it's me - sorry I don't have a pic - black and white polka dots.  I'm traveling to DC this week and needed new luggage.  I went to TJ Maxx to find some shoes to walk around DC in (unsuccessful), and found a fabulous suitcase for only $40, but I didn't get it.  When I got home I was deeply disappointed in myself.  However, my Prince Charming saved the day.  When I got home from work yesterday he asked me to go get something out of his truck, and what do you think was there....yep, that fabulous suitcase.  Love him for that!

Thinking:  I have a lot of changes coming in the next few months and my to do list is growing.  Our 4th grade is getting ready for the state writing assessment, we are headed to Williamsburg in a month with our classes for an overnight field trip, and teaching the rest of the year.  Not to mention everything that needs to be done at home.  Can anyone say, clean?

Wanting:  To fast forward to summer.  I LOVE my class, but I'm exhausted.  We started a new grade level in our building and it has worn me out completely!  I'm ready for summer vacation!

Needing:  to clean and organize my mess of a house.  

Like: Samoas cookies - Kudos to the Girl Scouts!
Love: Shoes - it's an obsession of mine
Hate:  Sassiness - If I sassed the way some kids do, my mom and dad would have had my tail.

Head over to Farley's Place to see what is currently going on with everyone!

I Don't Have the Answers...

It's taken me all weekend to begin to process what happened in Parkland, Florida.  I put it aside and compartmentalized it until I...