Tag Archives: STAR testing

Thankfulness Thursday: Good-bye STAR test

Standardized testing is a necessary evil, at least for now. Yes, I think it puts too much pressure on children and teachers. Yes, I think it shifts priorities. However, it is a way to compare schools and prove it is possible to close the achievement gap between low and high income communities.

In two years, it will change completely, and while I have expressed my doubts about requiring schools to give computer-based tests, I’m hopeful the adoption of the National Standards will be a change for the better. Word on the street, teaching will slow down, be more conceptual, an improvement. My fingers are crossed.

Today my students finished their last STAR test in our two years together. It was a joyous event. After STAR testing, the climate at school shifts. Yes, we still learn, but now all the core standards have been taught for the year and I can weave everything together into units on history and art and…

I don’t know if it is the knowledge that I now have five weeks to let inquiry drive instruction or all the yoga or what, but I felt incredibly calm and unaffected by post-test meltdowns and a chaotic room full of students working on large trifold posters for their culminating elementary school project. Construction paper was everywhere. The threat of glitter explosions loomed in the air. Dozens of kids wanted my help simultaneously. “Mrs. M!” “Mrs. M!” “Just one second.”

Still, I was at peace, with a smile on my face. If only I could find this space every day. I suppose the offer of fruit snacks and Capri Suns to put the room back in order didn’t hurt either.

Today we started a GLAD strategy where students express their thoughts and questions about visuals for a unit. We put ours on a map of the United States and a picture of the U.S. Presidents. Beneath is our U.S. History timeline which will soon be filled with cards from their mini-report on the presidents.

Today we started a GLAD strategy where students express their thoughts and questions about visuals for a unit. We put ours on a map of the United States and a poster of the U.S. Presidents. My favorite question: “Why has there been only one African American president?” Next students will create definitions for president, country, and state, then make informational cards about each president to stick on our timeline. May is my favorite month to teach.

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Week 32: The Sweet Spot

Teaching always moves through ups and downs. Sometimes it feels like too much, sometimes it feels just right. This week, it feels like exactly where I need to be at exactly the right school with exactly the right children. I hope this is symptomatic of my personal growth over time, as opposed to the winding down of a school year or the change in weather, but whatever the cause, I’ll take it.

Too often Sundays feel anxious. Instead of a day of relaxation, they usually feel like the day before Monday, the day before my life shifts back into work mode. Lately, they’ve been different. They have felt untethered to the demands of the week. Likewise, where Friday used to feel like my saving grace, lately it has felt instead like an unexpected surprise at the end of the day, like I could keep going, like I still have more to do and do not mind.

I want to know what the difference is, so that I can make this how I always feel about my work. I know it’s not a change in the kids, they’re just as challenging and wonderful as ever. It has something to do with me.

Maybe I do better when the days are longer and the sun is out. Maybe the seven weeks until summer has me more relaxed or the promise of STAR testing being over soon is comforting. Perhaps it is the end of two years with the same kids and the knowledge of my real love for them as our days come to an end. Then again, it could be I have slowed down after work, making more time for nothing instead of cramming every moment with writing. Or, just maybe, I really did pick a profession I enjoy and this is the beginning of years of liking what I do.

Oh goodness, if I could only be so lucky. If to teach and write could be enough, my life would be full in a way I always dreamed but never expected.

Week 32 was test prep and our annual teacher appreciation days. I got sweet notes and gifts and words of encouragement. Smiles where sometimes there has been conflict. Little gestures of gratitude to show I am at the right place at the right time with the right kids. As I stood in front of parents yesterday for Saturday School, I thanked each family for giving me the honor of spending two years with their children. My eyes filled with tears. The right place.

Teacher Appreciation

It’s amazing how appreciation from families makes my job feel right.

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