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I almost sold my teacher soul…

A. B. C. D.

Fill those bubbles completely.

Don’t you dare “Christmas tree.” Not if you want to survive in Club Infinity.

Yes, “Christmas tree” is a verb. It means randomly decorating your answer sheet like you would a Christmas tree; no work, no rhyme, no reason. It’s a form of treason.

High stakes tests lead to near cardiac arrests. For everyone.

It starts at the top, trickles to me and ultimately every third grade baby.

The implications are many, these tests answer allll the questions:

Am I a good teacher?

Are my kids a mere statistic?

Is this a pipeline to prison?

State required “retention?”

Print all the labels and stick them on everyone. We will all be placed inside boxes when this thing is done.

That’s the thinking of our system, anyway…designed by those who haven’t spent more than a few minutes in a classroom. And zero minutes in mine.

But still.

There’s always a but still. Perception is everything and as much as I try not to, I do care of what the world thinks of me and mine.

I can’t be like Taylor Swift and shake it off.

Or I haven’t yet figured out how…

What I did, however, is almost sell my teacher soul to the educational devil lurking behind those standardized tests.

It didn’t even take two years.

For most of my career, I lived in first and second grade and did allllll the things that everyone knows are good for kids. Alllll the things. Room transformations, art integrations, inquiry and explorations, and all the other “-tions.” You name it, we probably did it.

Then third grade hit.

And I found myself slowly changing who I am as a teacher all in the hope of increasing scores.

I didn’t realize it until a few weeks ago but it started sometime last year.

Our schedule is tight and we have so much to get right. Our beginning of year reading data is red and sometimes I feel like we are barely keeping afloat in the Dead Sea of reading recovery.

So I found myself skimping on science, then slowly moving to “integrating” it into reading. During our science time. Quotations. Because integration means content level passages and more bubble practice, right?

Best for kids?

Nope.

Best for scores?

Maybe.

Except you don’t treat a lingering headache with a whole bottle of Tylenol. If you do, you may just kill yourself.

What I was doing was the educational version of killing myself. And my kids.

Throwing down reading pills, hoping our issues are cured and scores go up…all the while slowly killing us all.

Quick. Pump all of our stomachs.

I am better than that. My kids deserve better.

Much like Drake, I was feeling upset at the time when it was pointed out that I was wrong. But now, I am glad. I all but signed the dotted line to sell all of my soul. For $9.99.

All for some extra percentiles that I may or may not get.

Checked myself before I wrecked the world.

I find myself having to check it all. Make sure I am not sucking the life out of teaching and learning.

Many say that if you just teach, not to a test, that scores will come.

I don’t know.

Maybe?

I do know, however, that teaching isn’t test prep. My kids aren’t a score. So what I do has to reflect that and my focus has to shift back…back to what matters.

Last week, we grew radish seeds without soil.

We replaced some of the planned passage practice with real text that kids will actually want to read.

We are going to do Flashlight Friday. Along with a heap of other great kid-centered things.

But still. Yes, there’s even a but still here. But still, no one better “Christmas tree.”

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Author:

I like big teaching and I cannot lie, you other teachas can't deny, when the kids come in with all the haste you get pumped!

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