Despite my efforts to shift my kids’ mindsets about “tests,” many still harbor old notions of tests in the classroom, which generally manifest in the form of anxiety. They are being tested. They are being critiqued. They are being labeled. They are being sorted. They are being judged. And for too many, they believe they are being defined. And that’s a problem. But in a test-and-move-on, ready-or-not system this is a prevalent view, and so when I tell them “this is not a test,” they do not believe. Kyle 5th period yesterday, even said as much, as he questioned the rose I presented by another name. Looks like a test. Smells like a test. Feels like a test. Must be a test.
His logic’s not off. For it is a seeming mirage I present in form, but it is in function where his claim misses the mark. Of course, I wish that name alone would change their minds, even admonishing myself when I slip and call it “test” (old habits are hard for me, too.), but in form, it will likely always look a test. I have limited control over that. However, I have firm control over function. I have final and ultimate choice and say over how I use the form, regardless its name. And so, that is where I will spend my time and energy in transforming my kids’ minds on the role of performances in my classroom.
And so, yesterday, I offered, in response to my stress-filled little wonders, that the performance was a step not an end. It was simply an opportunity for me respond to their shots at the provided targets, to give them feedback on where they are, a snapshot. And as I skimmed their responses upon turn in, I saw that we still have work to do. They are not where I want them to be…yet. But they will get there, and their work yesterday will help inform my responses as we move ahead, as I help them take better aim. I have to do better. They are still not wading deeply enough into the pool with their analysis. And so, my performance needs work, too. And my hope is that my owning that will also help the kids take greater ownership as we work together to move down the path.
One step at a time. Some kids took three or four steps yesterday. Most stayed on their present perch. A few took a step or two back (that’s learning). One, CJ, took a tumble. After 40 minutes, she had nothing on her paper. Tears in eyes as the bell rang, she still sat at her desk. I knelt beside her, patted her on the arm, told her it was okay, and asked her if she wanted to come in Tuesday during access time and take it together. She nodded, smiled, and packed up. A standout in regular LA last year, she was encouraged to take honors this year. And I am not going to leave her behind. And I don’t “have to.” I am in control of how I use performances in my class. I am in control of how I respond to each and every kid’s journey this year. There are no ends on this trail. I will not let CJ fall and stay behind only twenty-seven days in–any days in. I will get her through. This is simply a setback, not an end. She will climb.
Along today’s trail we will…
…engage in Community Circle. First Friday of every month we have Community Circle. Love this fun, focused approach to building culture and community with my kiddos.
…end with a Sappy Sy Rhyme.
Happy Friday, all.
Do. Reflect. Do Better.