Monday, April 23, 2012

Today's THE day!

OK, so I didn't post this year like I wanted. Planning, grading papers, and attempting to be creative have taken all my time. Unfortunately, my professional blog took a backseat. (Better this than my parenting!) I'm not giving up, though! After today, it's over. Yep, it's state standardized testing day. I'm a language arts teacher, and today, my students take that portion of the test. Every lesson I've taught, every strategy created, every modification made, every decision thought out


At breakfast this morning, my 4th grader was so aware of my tenseness that she felt the need to tell me she thinks I'm a good teacher. I hope she's right, because I don't "feel" good. As a matter of fact, I feel sick. As she gets out of the car, she smiles and wishes me luck; I tell her I'd feel better if she were one of my students.

Once at school, I visit my language arts partner. She's a young teacher, but she feels confident. Her only question addresses whether she should pass out candy. I tell her I do, because research shows that sucking on a piece of hard candy helps you concentrate.

As classes are getting settled, I make it a point to visit a few key students: the two boys who "Christmas treed" the practice test and a few more that may need a little confidence boost. I'm all too aware that his or her mood could mean everything today.

Now, I'm sitting at my desk watching my homeroom take the test. It's an accelerated class. They are making me feel better. They are smart and confident; I know they'll do well. They've worked hard this year, and I'm proud of them. I still stress over them because their scores were already high. They need to make a decent amount of growth this year, but that's difficult when some of them are already in the 99th percentile.

One of my lowest students in this class finishes first with half the time to spare. He pretends to look over his answers. I make a mental note to pay close attention to his data when scores return.

A good third of this class has a cold or allergies. I've passed out a ton of tissues. I love to be made to read a bunch of boring passages when I have a dripping nose...don't you?

During the testing break, the teacher across the hall noted that one of my highest students in her homeroom only used 25 out of the 76 minutes she was allotted. Confidence or arrogance?

We have had our break, and now we are starting part 2. I brought a good supply of my favorite protein bars and chocolate dipped granola bars for them to eat during the break. Almost all of them are gone.

Bellies are full, candy has been replenished, teacher has been talked off the ledge.

Watching my iPhone timer, I realize that in a matter of 62 minutes, it is over. For me, it all comes down to one test on one day.

Did I do enough?
Could I have done more?
What should I do differently next year?

21:09 left. My nerves have finally gotten the best of me, and I'm off to the restroom (TMI, I know!). Most of the kids have finished the second part, and the finality is setting in. What's done is done.

I'm able to start thinking about the rest of the week. I've collected a short set of standards from my colleagues that I know I can help review for math, science, and social studies portions of TCAP. I'll do math today since that test is tomorrow. I'm excited that my language arts partner will be combining classes with me today so we can review the kids together and do some co-planning for the rest of the year.

When the short scores return, we'll comb through each score and plan some more. We'll note our strengths and weaknesses and design a plan that will supplement those deficits. The data will tell a story. Is it reliable?

2:23 left. The kids are getting squirrely. Nothing more to do today. Now, we'll begin the 7th grade curriculum to give them a confidence boost into the next school year.

0:00 Language arts portion of the TCAP is over. Another teacher tells me that one of my boys fell asleep twice during the first part of the test. Child sleeping through the test DOES NOT equal teacher accountability, but I will have to answer for his scores.