This week across the state of Texas teachers and students are at the point in the school year that they have been anxiously awaiting for the past 9 months. It’s STAAR testing week and from previous experience, I can say that testing days are by far some of the most mind numbing, feet dragging, soul draining days as a teacher. I have been seeing former coworkers posting on social media about their testing weeks and I can’t help but say a quick prayer for each and every one of them as I imagine their tired feet being kicked up after their tiresome days.
Testing is honestly, probably the biggest thing I don’t miss about teaching.
The concept that is standardized testing is still I continue to struggle with when I’m asked about my teaching philosophy/future plans as an educator. I won’t delve into too much personal detail but I (and I’m sure many others – educators or not) can see the positives/negatives to both sides of the testing line. One thing I did enjoy about getting to this point in the school year with my students is that it gave us an attainable goal we had to reach. It was a milestone for each student in someway and myself. It was a day on the calendar that we were slowing moving towards during the school year. We had finally made it to ‘that’ point in our planners and afterward there was always a sense of accomplishment – like, I am officially done with this grade level now and can move on. It was preparation in way, for bigger tests/milestones in life and I felt good knowing that I was there, getting to support my students in some way as they were finally able to jump over their personal hurdles in the testing environment.
Then there is the negative…the pressure on both students and teachers was and is something that I personally, and morally have a really hard time with. I know I have read articles about all of the unnecessary stress being placed on students at such a young age right now. Kids coming home and having panic attacks from a state test is obviously not the most optimal educational situation. Kids should be kids. Kids should play, and learn, and enjoy their educations to the fullest. But then how can we hold them accountable? How can we make sure that students are learning at least some of the basic strategies as their developmental peer group? How can we make sure that teachers are challenging them and pushing them to become the best educated members of society that they can be?
It’s so hard isn’t it. To find that balance.
We aren’t close but I know that one day it will be figured out. I have faith in that. For now, I’m going to keep offering up my days for my teacher friends and teachers everywhere as they actively monitor their students take the biggest test they have had to take thus far in their little lives. I’m going to continue to try and set an example for teachers and parents (especially when mine is in school) that while the system is far from perfect, a little grace goes a long way and if we all just stop and realize that we all want the same end result… I think we’ll all do pretty ok on a much more important test that life offers us.
Just my two cents. Happy Wednesday!