STANDARDIZED TESTING, the huge buzzword right now in education, the most controversial topic regarding education in the government. Our whole education system is currently centered on a high stakes network of tests whose original purpose was to evaluate student success. As an educator, it’s what our whole year is based around.
Everything rides on the scores that your students receive: school accreditation, student advancement, and (the scariest of all) your career. Incidentally, the stress that a teacher may feel can sometimes pale in comparison to what students experience.
Test anxiety is a very real problem and the push from standardized testing is only making it worse. However, I don’t really want to write a piece about why standardized tests are bad, nor do I want to write an article about how badly my students need to pass. Frankly, I couldn’t care less if my students pass their SOLs….
I don’t care if my students pass the SOLs because the tests aren’t everything. My favorite example is, “Oh another day went by and I still didn’t use Algebra.” However, there are other skills I can teach my students that they will use every day and something that they absolutely need to know: How to be a good human being.
Yes, surprisingly the first things you take away from school aren’t the ABCs, how to multiply decimals, or the life cycle of a butterfly. I believe the most important things that students take away from the classroom are their perceptions about how to treat other people and how their actions can influence others. I feel that I have the obligation as a future educator to provide my students with the ability to function in society. If I can send a group of students on into the world knowing one thing about how to treat others, then I’ve been successful.
The best way I feel like I can provide this is to show my students and to model for them the behaviors of good people. I’ve heard so many horror stories from people about teachers who made them feel worthless or upset all the time.
I had a student in my student teaching placement that just had such a hard time being nice to others. He was snarky and rude and made other students upset. One day I had just had enough and I pulled him into the hallway. As I was about to become the mean teacher, I stopped and thought to myself, “How could I fix this problem?” I realized that making this student feel shameful for not knowing how to act toward others would make me the one who should feel shameful.
Yelling at him for not understanding wouldn’t solve this problem and the only thing I would be teaching him would be to make others feel bad for not understanding.
So instead I asked him why he treated others the way that he did and coached him on different ways that he could handle his frustration or anger.
He was slower to snap at others, and generally more kind to other students. The day I left that classroom was so difficult because I had grown to love my students so much (I’m tearing up as I write this). That little boy cried the day that I left. I know he didn’t cry because I had taught him how to identify nouns or because he would miss how I taught him to add two digits.
I knew that I had made a difference to him because I had shown him the way that he should treat others, with compassion and fairness. So that’s why I don’t care if my kids pass the SOLs, because I’d rather have a whole classroom full of kids who know how to be kind.