A Day in the Life

It has been a day. In fact, it has been one of those days that clearly illustrates what it is to be a teacher. I spent my morning administering a state standardized test. My kiddos took the first half yesterday and finished it up this morning. It’s their first one. I walk this tightrope around these tests of doing all I can to prepare them while working hard not to make the test stressful. It sucks. I’m pretty sure it sucks for them too, but I know it sucks for me. Whether I like it or not, test scores are used for many things these days. These third grade test scores are unlikely to impact their lives, but their sixth grade scores will determine whether or not they have to take a remediation course in seventh grade, thereby losing one elective. These test scores are considered when deciding if students can be in honors courses in middle school and high school. I think it is absurd and a terrible indicator of students’ potential future success, but no one is asking me.

So our school day, while only a small part was actually testing, was dominated by that testing. One of the crappier parts of being a teacher.

On the other end of things, a friend and former colleague was at her daughter’s college graduation today and ran into one of our former students. He was also graduating. And he remembered me (whether she asked him about me or he mentioned me unprompted I do not know). I taught him in fifth grade, eleven years ago. He has a college degree now (from a highly respected university). The idea that I played some part in his success is such an uplifting, reassuring thought. Especially on a day like today.

This evening my oldest daughter had a choral concert. It’s an extra fun one because it’s mostly show tunes with lots of upbeat energy. (Also especially helpful on a day like today.) It’s a community choir with kids from five on up to high school seniors. All of the choral groups perform and many of the kids sing solos or duets. The final soloist of the evening is another former student of mine. She’s a ninth grader now and I taught her when she was in first grade. Watching her on that stage, a place it seems she was born to be, brought tears to my eyes. I want so badly to think that I played some part in her success.

I want my students to be successful. I’m just not sure I define that in the same way many others do.

I want my students to believe in themselves.
I want my students to know themselves and be willing to see themselves honestly.
I want my students to love themselves.
I want my students to be happy.
I want my students to be able to think and question.
I want my students to be kind.
I want my students to be aware of others and empathetic.
I want my students to want to keep learning. Always.
I want my students to want to improve themselves and our world.

I want them to have the necessary skills to live the life they want to live and to have the confidence and sense of self to know what that might be and to work to make it happen.

The two former students who crossed my path today seem, as near as I can tell, to be doing that just fine. I hope my current third graders do as well, regardless of their test scores.

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