I remember it vividly. My first year teaching, and I gave my first major test. It was a Friday. I was excited.
I knew that I taught well. I knew that my students learned. I knew the test was good. I helped come up with a test with questions in the same vein as the State Assessment. The results were going to show that I had my students on the right track. The fact that they were Title I students at a school with a reputation for never making AYP meant nothing. They could learn and they did.
I was so excited to see the results that I decided to stay later on a Friday. I made my way to the Scantron machine (for the younger teachers, we used to use these to score tests for us…this was before the Interwebs made testing easier). I remember turning on the machine and hearing it warm up. I got the scan sheets together by class periods.
I just knew I was going to hear more “buzz” than “clunk” (younger teachers, these are the sounds that this machine made…the clunkier sounds were the machine marking questions as incorrect). I started running the tests…
By the time I finished my last class period, I was quite aware that I would probably have nightmares in which I was being chased by a clunking Scantron machine! I don’t think there was one test with more buzz than clunk. The results were dismal. They were disheartening. They will downright depressing. I went home with my head hung low. This was not the way to start a weekend. This was definitely not the way to start a long weekend (which it was).
I vowed never to grade tests on a Friday again. A promise I would keep for many years.
(Younger teachers, back when we had VCRs that used video tapes and cassette players with cassette tapes, we used to be able to advance them forward using the fast-forward button…it had “>>” on it.)
I gave the second test of the school year. This time I used a web-based testing site called Quia (which I highly recommend…it is not super user-friendly, but (great once you learn how to use it)
(Oh, and for you older teachers, we can give tests on the Interwebs now, they give us automatic reports and we can set them to pull from a question bank and everything…find a younger teacher to tell you about them and show you how to use them).
What is cool about this site is that you can, in a way, watch the results in real time (if you keep hitting the “refresh” button, which I do). I saw how the students were doing on the test as they worked on it. I love doing this.
The first test of the year went better than usual. This test, however, was quite similar to the test I told the first story about. I had high expectations, but the results were a bit of a let down. There were far more “inccorects” than “corrects.” Grade were not stellar. They weren’t even atmospheric. They were barely above ground-level. This, like I said, was a lot like that first test grading experience I told you about.
There was a difference this time, though. I did not go home let down. I was, in a way, happy about the results. Maybe happy is not the right word…but I definitely was not in a state of depression. I was fine going into my weekend knowing what the test told me about the students and what they learned.
Why this change? Why did I go from being destroyed by test results to being okay with them? How did I get to the point that disappointing scores did not leave me very disappointed? Why was I able to leave for the weekend borderline happy after a test not going well?
For that, you will need to “tune in” tomorrow for Tilted Windmills: Part 2 (younger teachers, we used to have to literally tune in TV and radio stations with a dial and antenna).
You are awesome and amazing! I bet you probably see where this is going. Even if you don’t, you are interested and want to know more. This is why you are a great teacher. You want to learn from the failures and successes of others. This will make you grow as a teacher and make you the best teacher that you can be for you students! Thank you for being this way. I thank you for your students and I thank you for the future that your students will make better because of you. Keep on teaching and growing, Teacher!
PS… Pinterest contest ends next week! Don’t forget about it if you have been putting it off!