Imagine spending 8 whole months with 2 hours in mind, and those 2 hours have a major impact on your “teaching” career. You prepare with that in mind. You start with diagnostics, already have your eye out for certain warning signs, keep your pencil sharp, and make sure your lessons integrate techniques to help students when those 2 hours come. The first month’s that honeymoon period where you’re shaking your kids’ cobwebs from their summers, and then you see what your students are really made of. Only it’s already October, and the streak of a million breaks comes through. Half-days interspersed with Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the ELA test is already breathing down your neck.
“OK, after the ELA test, the whole school can focus on the Math test.” you say to yourself in that brisk and snowy January. But you look at your teacher-made curriculum and your kids are just a bit slower than that curriculum. Actually, a lot slower. Your stress levels rise, you’re overeating, and you’ve dumped all your extracurricular activities to prepare for these g-d-awful 2 hours. And of course, the kids have smiles on their faces, all jubilant and ignorant, naive to the politics of their own performance on this test. You’re looking at all your data, your predictive assessments, your state and city-driven exams, looking through old exams, looking for different resources and tricks, trying to put your ear to the edu-street about what that secret test is going to look like.
It’s a week in, and you’re like, “Alright. This is it.” Stress levels to the max. You freshen up those little skills that everyone misses while going over the big themes for the test, hoping they at least ace the parts that matter most. You move in to about a day before the test, and you’re just resolved to the fact that, after all the preparation you’ve offered, everything’s really up to them. There’s no more to it. Whether they showered that morning, ate breakfast, have the flu, got in an argument with family, studied only certain sections of all the materials you gave them, or if they listened to what you were saying at ALL during the semester, you let those factors that are beyond you stay beyond you.
After a couple of days, the test is over, and you let your students breathe just a little, and now, you wait.
ELA scores come in. And they do well. So what?
You wait some more.
Graders go to the district center and grade, and you’re selected. You see the successes of the other schools and think, “I hope my kids did that well.” You wonder what you could have done differently, reflect, discuss with fellow teachers, and start the planning for next year.
Before you know it, it’s June, and the overall scores come in. Your school meets the AYP again and then some, but you only care nominally. You’re more worried about how your particular students did. Then, you wake up on a random Tuesday, asking yourself if the city’s already posted up the test scores. Lo and behold, they’re there. In all their glory. What a sight to see.
Some of your students go down, but the majority of your students shoot up. And high. You’re encouraged and for the rest of the day, you’re running around like a drum in a Latin jazz solo, barely able to contain yourself. You’re ready to scream at the top of your lungs. You give the student who improved the most, the one who came after school everyday for 5 months, who jumped from barely understanding the math to being one of the top students in your math class, the biggest congrats you can possibly give anyone without jumping too far out of your own skin.
If that all happened to you, then you’re me. Except the stressing part. I’m too cool for that.
Jose, who knew that was going to happen all along …