I don’t know how your summer is going, but I have had quite a week. I have had great family time, presented at a conference, and got a good jump on something I am planning for next year. Overall, it has been a pretty exceptional week…but there is a heavy cloud hanging over me that I don’t know if I will shake for a while.
I found out how my students did on the state tests at the end of the year.
Needless to say, the scores were less than stellar.
Even though I thought that last year, by far, was my best as a teacher, the scores were lower than I think they have been for me. Their are A LOT of factors in play here…more than there have ever been in a year of teaching for me…but I can’t help but feel like I failed my students a bit.
Something tells me I am not the only one in this boat. Even if you don’t have your results back yet, I know you might be bracing yourself for the worse.
For this reason, I think it is time for a theme-song post.
I love these types of posts, and they always help me to gain perspective, and I hope it is the same for you. For those new to this blog, click play, get past any ads that might be there, and then read on while the music plays. You may want to go back and listen to the song and watch the video again after reading…I think I found the perfect song for today.
Let’s just start where it probably hurts the most…STOP DOUBTING YOURSELF!
You are a great teacher…nay, an amazing teacher.
Do not let the test scores make you think anything else.
You are bold and brave, and you care for your students like few others do.
You and I took risks this year.
We banked on what we know about our students, what we have learned about the learning process, and tried some outside of the box strategies. Our kids were engaged. They were learning. They were becoming better students and better people.
We were courageous in one thing more than others. We had the audacity to do something that seemed crazy in the high-stakes testing era…we didn’t focus on the test…we focused on each student.
We got to know each child in our classroom. We tried to find their strengths and weaknesses. We tried to accommodate every child and their needs, with or without a piece of paper that requires us to. We differentiated. We helped students to learn how to process content on their own. We slowly gave the reigns of their learning over to them so that they could be responsible for learning.
We laughed with them.
We cried with them.
We helped them grow.
We watched them change throughout the year.
We know more about them than a test will ever show. We saw students go from not wanting to try to begging for a chance to prove themselves. We saw students who hated school become students who couldn’t wait for Monday to come when Friday was over. We saw children become students and members of our school communities. We saw growth on almost every level. We saw magic.
We also saw the hurt that our students experience in and out of school. We saw the difficulties that they face at home. We saw pain. We saw hunger. We saw low self-esteem. We saw challenges for children that we could not even imagine. And we helped our students succeed despite all of this and helped them start to see how they can rise above it. Yes, I need to say it again…we saw magic.
There is not a test made that can prove how our students went from kids barely ready for the grade that we teach to being ahead of the game for the grade they are going into next year. There is not a test that takes into account the students that may have had to sleep at a friend’s house the night before the test or in a motel room because of something going on at home. There is not a test that can show how students finally came alive at the end of the year after you working with them for 3 1/2 quarters before you saw any growth.
There is not a test that proves the magic that we saw.
So, we did not focus on a test that does not show students overcoming obstacles in their lives. We focused on the child. We believed in them. We helped them strive in situations where everything was stacked against them. We made magic happen…and that is hard to do while teaching to a test.
We made a conscientious decision to think about our students as more than numbers. We decided that we want the students to know how to learn on their own and not need us there to help them after they leave our room. We decided to take into account what they may me going through in life. We decided to dig in and not give up on students that gave up on themselves. We decided to believe in something bigger than ourselves and trust in the magic that can happen in our classrooms.
Is that wrong?
Are we wrong?
Am I wrong?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that I can think of living in a world, especially educational world, where this is wrong. I chose to believe in my students and believe in educational magic.
So the test scores were not great. Is that what really matters? What can you look to that proves that there was more going on in your classroom than can be judged by the test?
Here is a test for you…with results to change your mood after learning about your state results:
- Who is that student that was your your class that could not do anything on grade level and refused to try that ended the year trying their hardest just because you asked them to and they know you care?
- Who is that student that you know had a rough go of it at home, but looked to your classroom as a sanctuary?
- How did the atmosphere of the student interactions in your room change from being kids in your class to a classroom family?
- How did each student you teach change from day 1 to day 180?
- How did you grow as a teacher from day 1 to day 180?
Take some time and think through these questions. Write down your answers if you journal. I think that, if you do, you will start thinking less about your state scores (good or bad) and know how well you taught based on your students. After all, aren’t they the reason that you are there?
You are not wrong, Teacher, and you are awesome! Keep on believing your students matter more than scores. I believe in you as you keep believing in them! Keep on teaching, Teacher, and keep on making that magic happen!