Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Out of the Mouths of Babes

One of our third grade teachers asked students to write their feelings about our state-wide test, the FCAT, in their journals. One student's comment stood out. She wrote:

It feels like a storm has been chasing me. I am just plain nervous.

We really DO make every effort to help our students not stress about this test. We try to keep it fun and remind them that they just need to "show what they know". Still, there are pressures from everywhere. And in our state, third graders who do not "pass" will be retained. It's scary.

I am all about asking kids to think deeply when they read. I agree that we only scratch the surface of critical thinking on most days. I also think many kids ARE capable of more than the output they give. But, to quote my principal, "At what expense?"

As we seek rigor and alignment in our classrooms, are we adding too much to the pressure cooker that dwells inside each of our students' minds? Do we help them with coping strategies? Do we remind them that good thinking is simply what a person "should" do and really has little to do with the test or its outcome? Do we remind them every single day that they ARE important no matter what a number on a test says about them?

The truth is, if we asked most teachers how they feel about testing, they may answer just the same as this little girl:

It feels like a storm has been chasing me. I am just plain nervous.

At least the ones that I work with WANT their children to do their best work. They believe in our kids. And they know that this one little blip on the radar screen of life does not define who you are or what you'll become.

I'm hoping for calm weather as we take this test. I'm trusting that our teachers and our students truly have done their best teaching and learning. And I know it will all be OK.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Wordless Wednesday---Sort Of...

My colleagues and I wrote a song to High School Musical's "What Time Is It?" to help motivate our kids for their upcoming FCAT test. It mushroomed into quite a production complete with video. I'm hoping to get it up on Teacher Tube or You Tube to share. I was able to recruit my son and his friend to help us out. I love it when people work together to make school a little more exciting for kids. It makes me sure that there is plenty RIGHT with public education!