I am so tired. It isn’t even dark yet, and I’m already slouched over my laptop in bed, ready to call it a night. Is it because I have been pulling late nights constructing award-winning unit plans? Is it because I have been toiling long hours at school to develop high-interest, multi-sensory centers that touch on all of the multiple intelligences? Not even. I haven’t taught jack yet this week and won’t be providing services until next.
We’re just in the middle of our New Mexico Standards Based Assessments. This is the week our entire school year has been bracing for. This is what our teaching has revolved around for the past eight months. This test (and the students’ scores) will determine our future as a school (Corrective Action, anyone?), our fates as teachers (Hello SY2007-2008!) and our pride (or disappointment) in our students. This is the time when nerves are strung, the room is hushed and No. 2 pencils are sharpened and (hopefully) poised for academic brilliance.
I am so tired. I am tired of testing for 8 hours straight each day. I am tired of reading the same questions out loud and I am tired of not being able to help students when they genuinely want to know what “foreshadowing” means.
But most of all, I am tired of revolving my lessons around the NMSBA. I’m tired of teaching kids the tricks to taking standardized tests when I really would love to spend more time teaching them tricks to decoding tough words. I am tired of watching my students in special education feel like losers for failing a seventh grade test, when in fact they have already made two years of growth to reach the third grade reading level this year. I am tired of watching all that confidence we built up over the past eight months be blown away by a single state-mandated test.
This is not a rant against No Child Left Behind. This is not a rant about state and school accountability. In fact, I am in favor of keeping NCLB with appropriate reforms and funding, and mostly agree with the Washington Post’s editorial on proposed changes to NCLB. Assessment, accountability and results are key to academic success. I look forward to a healthy balance nationwide of accountability and creative teaching.
All I really mean to say is, despite how tired I am now, I am really pumped up to teach the last two months of school, post-NMSBA.
EDIT: I’m also tired of not being able to tell my kids how supremely proud I am of them when they remember how to convert fractions and plan an essay, even though they were working on regrouping and writing a simple sentence back in September! Even though we’re in the middle of testing, they still wave me over to look at their work and it kills me to not be able to tell them how much they rock.
The opinions expressed in On the Reservation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.