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.


katied said...

Those words from the student are so powerful and are words I will remember to share with our third grade team. Your questions and thoughts are right on target with many of the folks I work with. Kids come first, not the "test". Thanks for your post.

lit.coach said...

We're so glad we found your site! We just finished boxing up our state tests to send off to the land of scoring this week--so, so glad it's over. We can see it in both the kids and the teachers, the relief. Looking forward to checking back in on your blog.

literacy.coach said...

I just read your words again. A month after our own state tests, I still have the same saddened reaction. Accountability, in my opinion, has effectively gone off the deep end, overboard, to hell in handbasket--you pick the metaphor! I think you are right that most teachers would echo this student's sentiments--as a testing coordinator, I know I do. This is why I love this time of year. Teachers are actually teaching, with no thought of a test. Students are more engages and enthusiastic. Hmm....

Amy said...

Wow. The words from that student make me so sad. Unbelievable pressure for such little ones... and their teachers.