We’ve spent the year doing reading, writing, math, and science to the best of our abilities.
Students come to class on fire about the new books in the library.
Students come to class begging to blog,
to write poetry,
to do research.
Students go to lunch
arguing about how to solve a math problem.
Students come back from lunch
wondering what experiment is in store; how does that work?
Now, after a year of learning, I pull out the test prep passages with multiple choice questions and standardized prompts. With words like “supports” and “generalize” and “conclude” that ask students to “choose all that apply.”
And no surprise.
Students push back.
Students ask and wonder why.
Students read the test prep text. Sitting at their desks, not on the ground or under chairs, and say “I disagree with this. This isn’t true.” I secretly agree, loving the ever present in your face moxie questioning, critical thinking attitude of students. But I say, this isn’t the time for that type of question. It’s the time to prove you know what that test maker wants. Read the question carefully. And respond.
As I write this, I cringe at the dystopian bitter pill we make our students swallow every year. I deplore the fact that the test makers drive educational endpoints. Where we put our resources. Dictate the value of our practice and our students. How is it that we give test makers the right to determine how students view learning? How is it that standards that purport to require critical thinking require the opposite?
It breaks the heart. And tears at the soul. But still…
tomorrow I will translate the language of test makers to the language of readers and writers. So students won’t be surprised or afraid. And…
tomorrow I will administer antidotes, by continuing to tell students:
You are more than any test can measure.
I know, I say nothing new to you who go into classrooms every day in spite of it.
Looking to engage and enlighten. To learn alongside students.
I write this for me. To remember and focus on what has everything to do with the book, the experiment, the story, the research, the art, the poem, the question, the wonder, the connection, the student. The future that I’m honored to work with.