Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Time flies

Five years ago, we visited the local high school to see the projects of students who participated in a class called Independent Study and Mentorship.  They study careers, interview and get interviewed by professionals and ultimately study under a professional in a career of their choice.  We saw so many varieties of careers, and this mama was impressed.  I had a first, third and fifth grader and was hopeful for the future and so excited about the opportunities that our district provides.

We went again tonight, this time at the invitation of one of Charlie's friends.  Charlie was looking at it from the perspective of someone who had been accepted into the program next year and who was watching what his friends had done.

The wide-eyed kid and mama are gone, and now we are looking at it from a more practical perspective.  Wide-eyed is so much more fun.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

STAAR scores from a teacher perspective

I am not a fan of standardized testing.  I tell kids all the time that the tests don't measure their value.  I tell them that their scores don't change what I know about them.  That I love them no matter what and that my goal is to teach them what I know they need to know, not how to pass a test.

BUT.

When those scores come out, I judge myself as a teacher.  I feel that they measure me and my worth as a teacher.  No matter how hard I try to convince myself, I can't help but feel like I failed these kids.  I love these kids and I love my job, but I question my worth and value as a teacher when I see those scores.  They'll never be good enough.

I can tell myself that a student has a learning disability or is just learning English.  Or maybe they are having a personal struggle.  But I still feel deep I my heart that I didn't do enough.

I can look at the successes.  The students who fought right along side of me and together we beat this test against all odds.  I can feel joy at the names that are not on my list of kids who failed the test.  I can think about making those phone calls to parents.

It doesn't matter.

I judge myself as a teacher based on the failures.  The state could give me a financial bonus or not based on their scores, but what breaks me and my teacher spirit more is those failures.  And not even just the failures, it's the ones that aren't as high as they could be.  The ones that you know don't show what that child is capable of.

So, kids and parents, know that your child's teacher takes the burden and the weight of those scores even more heavily than you do.  I know we need to measure them, but I feel like you are measuring me too.  And I'll never measure up to the highest expectations.  Those don't come from the state, the school board or the principal.  They come from me.  

It's not that your child isn't enough or didn't do enough.  They are perfect.  It's me who wasn't enough for them.  And I'm sorry.