Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Thoughts on This Time of Year

My students and I returned from spring break yesterday. Back to reality: the PARCC starts today (*resists rolling eyes. Fails*.) My students on the whole are confidently anxious, I think, meaning they feel prepared but are anticipating the length and seriousness of the test. There are a few things I did to try and help them reduce their anxiety:

  • I have to cover all of the anchor charts in my room. (Side note: this confused me. All year long we teach the kids to use their environment to foster their learning and creativity, and for two weeks, we take it away. It feels like the people who made this "rule" are setting kids up to fail.) My students weren't thrilled about this, so we decided that they could make posters to cover the anchor charts around the room. That way, the room wasn't bare, and they felt like it was still theirs. My fave: "I solemnly swear I will rock the test." Several were in keeping with our Harry Potter room theme. 
  • Last night I wrote them each a little note that will go on their desks today. I shared with each how much I believe in them, how strong they are, how far they've come. I hope they look at it when they're feeling nervous, and know they've got this. 
My school is great, too! A few teachers got together and created a video to "Get Back Up Again" from the Trolls soundtrack (shout out to Suzanne and Rachel!) It was so fun to make, and I realized that I will do ANYTHING - including wear a troll headband and push our library director around in a chair - if it will make my students laugh and feel less nervous. Our little friends in first and second grade at our sister school made posters that now decorate our halls. They are adorable and my students smile when they pass them in the hallway.

I'll admit, I don't have the best attitude about standardized tests (see the aforementioned failed attempt to cease eye-rolling.) But for my kids, I'll be their biggest cheerleader, fellow test-buttkicker, or anything else they need me to be. This is about supporting them, and not about my feelings.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for the opportunity to share my first Tuesday Slice of Life!


  1. Oof! How hard! The testing craze is one of the reasons I say I prefer to teach internationally. We do give the MAPs twice a year (but just two sections) and the ISA once a year (2 days), which is already more than I would like, but they are low pressure at our school and we do not do test prep. I agree with you about the anchor chart covering. Silly! It should be about choosing and using tools. Glad to see you here on the first Tuesday in April:)

    1. I'd prefer the MAP... at least it shows growth over a year. That feels like a more accurate assessment of where they're at.

  2. We just learned last week that we won't have to cover up as much as we have in the past (Texas). You are so right about the learning environment being an important tool. I'm hopeful that this means someone on our SBoE is catching a clue.

    1. That's really great. I wish Illinois were smart enough to realize that this particular test is pretty meaningless. It is definitely not an accurate snapshot of who my kids are and how much they've grown. *sigh*


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