I’ve started this letter so many times over the past week. I keep getting lost in the middle. It’s not because I can’t figure out what to say to you, but rather because there’s so much I want to say to you.
I mean…this has been a year. Right?
When schools closed abruptly last March, we were all caught off guard. Sure there were rumors of COVID shutdowns, but none of us had ever experienced anything like this before. To borrow a word that has gotten thrown around a lot this year, it was wholly unprecedented.
But you did what you do best. You pivoted and planned and stayed up late to figure out how to best make distance learning work for your students.
You gave yourself a crash course in Google Classroom, Zoom, or some other learning management system. You redesigned lessons and researched how to connect with kids online. And you put together hundred-page packets that were somehow meant to substitute for an entire quarter of instruction.
You dropped materials off, read to kids over the phone, and conferenced in driveways, at a safe six-foot distance. You went above and beyond for your students, because that’s what teachers do.
You are a rockstar.
At the time, we believed these accommodations would be temporary and we would soon be back to teaching and learning as normal.
But here we are, a year later, and some of you have not yet been back in the classroom! Schools that have reopened have had to deal with temporary shutdowns and quarantining students and staff. Not to mention masks, PPE, and social distancing.
Other schools have hybrid schedules and many of you have taken on the nearly impossible task of teaching kids at home and kids in the classroom simultaneously.
And you have made the best of it.
You are amazing, inspiring, and truly dedicated to your profession and your students.
And now it’s testing season.
Ugh. There is always that push for more.
It’s not enough that you and your students learned to navigate school in this new normal. It’s not enough that you provided love, support, guidance, and the best education possible given the circumstances. Or provided a safe place in the midst of chaos. It’s not enough that you taught essential skills in reading, writing, and resilience.
Now you must also prepare for and administer standardized testing, as if this were any other year.
As you stare down the start of another testing season, you may be feeling anxious or afraid. Or even angry.
Testing just seems extra hard and so inappropriate this year.
The media has been telling us that kids are “behind”—whatever that means—for months. It’s likely that many students may not reach the goals established for a normal year.
But you know what? That’s okay!
Because there is nothing normal about this school year. I know that. You know that. Parents know that. Heck, even the kids know that. But, apparently, those in power haven’t gotten the message.
We are living through a pandemic. And to expect normalcy is absurd.
I know that despite the challenges, each and every one of your students is ahead of where they were in September. Each and every one has grown and learned and developed new skills, both academic and personal.
Goodness, if we could measure all the things our students have learned this past year—things like resiliency and time management and technology skills and independence and organization and creativity—they would be off the charts! If only those things counted.
Well, I’ve got good news for you! All of those things do count! If you want them to.
Success is 100% personal. You can define success however you want. And I’m pretty sure that even in a normal year, you wouldn’t define success—yours or your students—by test scores.
Standardized Testing Does Not Measure Success
So please don’t let those tests define your success this year.
You know your students. You know how they came to you at the beginning of the year. And you know the challenges they faced trying to learn during a pandemic.
You know how far they have come—academically, emotionally, socially. You’ve watched them blossom before your eyes. And you created the environment and the experiences to make that happen.
You helped your students not only survive but thrive this year.
Your students’ scores do not define you as a teacher. Or a person.
Regardless of how your students score on their tests this spring, one thing is clear:
You, my friend, are a success.
Think for a minute of all you accomplished this year. Of everything you learned. New teaching strategies. Connecting with kids online. Communicating with and engaging parents. Mastering Google Classroom. And so much, much more.
I am in awe of you.
And I am honored that you have invited me to be part of your success story. Thank you for trusting me, for trusting my resources, and for being part of the Not So Wimpy Teacher family. We are always here for you, cheering you on!
Have a Not So Wimpy Day,
P.S. If you are looking for some fun activities to make test prep a little bit easier and more fun, check out this post about fun reading test prep activities or this one with fun ideas for math review.