Tuesday, June 3, 2014


So I read a teacher blog about how to keep your self occupied while actively monitoring a standardized test and reposted it jokingly on my Facebook page over the weekend.  My fourth graders took their EOG (end of grade) tests this week and walking around the room left me with lots of time to think.  I did think of a couple compelling "Would you rather..." questions.  You know, like would you rather have no teeth or no toes?  Would you rather give birth to a buffalo or have all your food taste like cooked cabbage?  Would you rather proctor a standardized test or go to the gynecologist?

In all seriousness, I have sat where my students sat before.  Since I was in the third grade, I too took the EOGs.  I had flashbacks of the pilot test I took as a nine year old.  It obviously didn't take off, because people still look at me like I'm crazy when I mention that we had a math, science, reading, and social studies test that year with open ended responses.  I remember in sixth grade, I wore a brand new outfit.  It was purple plaid shorts with a purple shirt with a flower printed on it in the same hideous plaid print.  Go ahead, think I'm weird for remembering it.  I remember the purple was the exact same shade of purple of my test booklet, and my teacher said she was sure it meant I was going to do well.  I insisted my mom find me something in the same shade to wear the next day too.  Doing my best wasn't good enough, I wanted to do the best.  It's something about about a tiny school, when you've known ALL your 30 classmates since kindergarten, and you're already crazy competitive anyway.  My parents didn't push me to be like that, I just was born that way.  Luckily somewhere between high school, college, teaching underprivileged kids, and parenthood I chilled out a lot.

This week, for the first time in four years, I was a test administrator to a classroom full of children I have been responsible for for the entire school year.  I watched some rush, I watched some work every single digit, I watched them go back find the answer, number paragraphs, scribble out bubbles, break pencil lead, and pull their layered clothes back on.  I watched their faces show relief when they turned in their books and I announced the end of the testing session.  I honestly have no idea if they did great or not, and fortunately I don't see this test as a competition.  I hope to goodness my babies did their best, but no matter their scores, this one test does not define their fourth grade year nor does it say everything there is to say about me as a teacher.

My little man took his first EOGs this week as well.  I am a little anxious as I await his arrival home (his schedule puts him at our house on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the week) to see how he feels about this experience.  I already have a pang of nervousness for my little bitty girls who one day will be set the task of bubbling in the best answers.  I thought after MClass and Dibles training last year that that was stressful (I went home and tried to teach Reagan, who at two thought I was nuts, all the sounds she heard in the word man "m-a-n" what sound do you hear at the beginning of man?).  And don't even mention kindergarten screening. We will be working on writing our name this summer!  Poor teachers' kids never get a break.  I've been there too.  However, my free spirited girls one of whom is currently only wearing a tutu over a pull up and a princess crown are not worried in the least.  What they know for a test or a screening or an assessment does not encompass them as a whole.  They are completely multifaceted human beings even at only two and three.

I have seen testing from all sides.  I've seen it as a student.  Thankfully, one that tests pretty well.  I've seen it as a teacher.  One with students who could barely read, who didn't know where their next meal would be from, whose first language was not English and on the flip side from students who come from loving, supportive homes.  I'm slowly starting to see it from a mommy perspective as well.  I do see it as a necessary evil, not even evil, but as something we don't love but we have to do, like paying taxes and going to the dentist.  Seeing data on my school babies is incredibly important, and it is helpful knowing what I need to teach more thoroughly.  There's no room for growth without some kind of baseline. It has just been a long couple days.  Talking is kind of one of my favorite hobbies and not being able to interact with my students normally, especially when they seemed worried or stressed was tough!  We are counting down until summer; just 8 more days left!  My school babies and my own are very excited.