Testing and the Pivotal Moments

Well teachers, testing week is here in TN. This means a lot of things. It means this school year is coming to an end. It means summer is near. It means that soon you will say goodbye to the faces that walked through your door every day. It means that you will soon do all of those “end of the year” things and no doubt, the kids will be outside of their minds… and let’s face it, you probably will be too- if you have not arrived already.

A lot of people say that this “testing week” or now shall we say “testing weeks” are the culmination of all of our work this year. It is the time for kids to show what they’ve learned. It is the pivotal moment of the year.

But the truth in the heart of education is that the real pivotal moments do not at all happen during the weeks of testing. No, they happen pretty much every day besides testing days.

The truth is that every moment that a child learns a new letter, a new sound, a new word, a new operation. That moment that a child makes a connection with an author or character in a book they’re reading. That moment that a child sees you stand up for them and feel loved. That moment that a child laughs in your class and you laugh with them and soon enough the whole class is laughing. That moment that children celebrate each other’s successes and encourage each other in their failures. That moment that a child comes completely out of their shell because they can hear you clearly for the first time. That moment when a child who struggles to get the right answer, gets it and the whole class cheers him on. That moment when a child connects history to the present and is thankful to go to school with a friend who has a different skin color. That moment when a child passes their multiplication quiz they’ve been stuck on for weeks. That moment when a child helps another child up on the soccer field. That moment when a child makes a connection with a story in the Bible and tells you the whole story. That moment when a child no longer says, “I can’t do it,” but says, “I will try!” That moment when a child tells you they are getting baptized over the weekend. That moment that a child looks at a picture of the planets and says, “Wow, God did that?”

These moments when they make connections between all the facets of their lives and hearts. These moments when they connect with their friends in simple but truly deep ways. These moments when they see you love and care for them deeply…

Friends, these are the pivotal moments that we think back on when we reflect on our year. We don’t remember that child’s test score. We don’t remember the strategies they use on the test. We remember and treasure the moments of learning that fill each school day. This is why we teach.

We do not teach to test. We teach to children. We teach the babies of parents. We teach children of God. We have been entrusted with them for this whole year.

Over the next few weeks your kids will take long and hard tests. But some of them will also have hard things still going on at home. Some of them will still struggle with learning disabilities. Some of them are facing things that are scary in their lives. Some of them have cried in your embrace because their life is just too hard for them to hold in any longer.

Some of those babies will be accountants, marketers, counselors, janitors, business owners, athletes, waitresses, policemen, nurses, teachers, and preachers. Keep helping them become who they were meant to be. Don’t get caught up in the testing funk. Keep teaching kids. Keep making learning fun. Keep making them laugh. Keep teaching them about the world around them. Keep cheering them on. Keep challenging them. Keep showing them that they can be successful even if it’s not how the state defines it.

The pivotal moments fill our days up. This test does not define you as a teacher and does not define your kids as students. The state will never know just how much your kids have grown this year. And that’s okay.

I cannot help but to share the successes and “aha!” moments of my kids because it fills my heart with overflowing gratitude and joy.

But I want to hear your pivotal moments! Without sharing names please feel free to comment one of your favorite pivotal moments from this year! Please share your pivotal moments with other teachers because it is in these things that we celebrate and rejoice!

Let’s make it our goal to talk about these more than we talk about testing these next few weeks!! Wahoo! Let’s go!

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