The month of April, it brings spring showers so we can have those lovely May flowers. For many, after a long winter, this month is a much welcome reprieve. A lot of beauty and newness of life comes forth during this much anticipated spring month.
The month of April, it also brings anxiety and stress to many kids and teachers alike. Why? The testing window has opened. A test that may be broken into different components, Reading and Math (Social Studies, Science and Writing for select grades), but it is, for all said purposes, The Test.
I won’t spend time talking about The Test. There is plenty written out there about the obvious injustice of this test. It is no secret that The Test will leave, more often than not, an inaccurate stain on a child’s academic identity.
The frustration is real.
Today, in the midst of this testing season, I write to those affected by this unfortunate entity. In the most stressful season of the academic calendar year, I want to offer words of hope and encouragement.
To the student.
You have had a goodnight’s sleep, you have eaten a good breakfast, you have studied to the point where you are mentally satisfied. You are now ready for this test. Does this accurately describe you? If the answer is “no”, that is alright. You are not alone.
Look around the room. There is a good chance that 90% of your fellow classmates lacked a goodnight’s sleep. This being a result of home environment, nerves, or a mix of the two.
A good breakfast? Well, most probably have had something to eat. Many places (including the school cafeteria) will offer free breakfasts to students during the week of testing. Was the breakfast enjoyed and had proper time to digest? Unlikely. Part of it was most likely snarfed down and then nerves kicked in to stop the rest of it from being eaten.
Studied? It is what it is at this point, right?
But put all thoughts of testing aside now and know this. You are defined by more than this moment in time. This test doesn’t even come close to measuring you.
This test can’t share your story of resilience as you worked your way from being two grade levels behind to being where you are now. It doesn’t show your love for writing and thus can’t display your many poems that were written in secret. It doesn’t show how you manage to turn in all your homework and make pretty decent grades despite the fact that you go home to a house void of adults and are left to care for your younger siblings. The Test does not and cannot fully and accurately showcase you.
But know this. Your teachers, they know. They see how far you have come. They have worked alongside you, encouraged you and loved you. They see your potential. They see what great things you can accomplish. They see you.
To the teacher.
Oh, friend. The Test. It has been the thorn in your side since you walked into your classroom that first day of school back in August. Every moment has led up to this. All hours of preperation and instruction are now going to be revealed as either success or failure.
It saddens me.
This test. It doesn’t even come close to measuring the hours upon hours you have poured into your students’ lives. It doesn’t reveal your late nights at school as you find better ways to help your students learn. It doesn’t show the tears you have cried as you have battled alongside of your struggling students. It doesn’t show the countless “outside of school” hours of tutoring you put in throughout the year. It doesn’t show the food you snuck into your student’s backpack so they wouldn’t go hungry over the weekend. It doesn’t show the amazing science projects you and your students created. It doesn’t show how much you love and care for your students.
But know this. Your students, they know. Your love for them has made an impression on their young lives. Your hard work is helping to shape them and prepare them for their bright futures. When all the stress of this testing season is over and after years have gone by, they will remember. The Test, it will be but a distant memory, but the difference you made in their lives, it will be what is imbedded into their hearts and minds.
So, tomorrow morning, grab yourself a wonderful cup of coffee (or sonic drink), take a deep breath and smile.
I wish I could promise you that all your kids will pass The Test and your job security as a teacher will be held firmly in place. I wish I could say, “don’t worry”…oh, how easy that would be. I wish…
Teachers – all teachers pre-k on up, specials teachers, ELL teachers, speech teachers, special education teachers, gifted teachers, reading and math specialists and everyone else in-between…know this…You are important and what you do is important. You are being cheered on; You have many people praying for you. Don’t let The Test win…you are more, much more than it could ever portray.