Most schools are at or around the mid year mark of the school year. So regardless of the grade level that you teach you’ve recently finished a round of exams or tests or will shortly do so. You will also be involved in another round of standardized, local, or state assessments in the spring. In my opinion, our policies, laws, and society place far too much importance on summative and standardized tests. The results drive an awful lot. Great teachers know their focus must remain on teaching and learning. Great teachers know the importance of creating memories through tangible experiences. They teach with enthusiasm and go to great lengths to capture students’ imagination.
I think assessments are important and do hold some value. We must help students prepare. However, assessments are not the most important thing that we do. Assessments are not the mission. Assessments are not why we chose to educate. Test scores are not our sole determination of success. Dave Burgess says “we are in the life-changing business”, we accomplish this by exuding creativity and magic in our classrooms. We must spark interest, fuel passions, and motivate future leaders. Educators must create meaningful learning experiences for students that will impact students long after we are gone. Be sure they leave your classroom with a plethora of great memories. Encourage students to find a reason to love learning. This means that we cannot place too much emphasis on assessments or assessment results. In their mind-blowing book Disrupting Thinking, Kylene Beers and Robert Probst remind us that we cannot allow students to think of themselves as an “H”. Students are far more than just a reading level. Please don’t make them prove their answers each and every time they crack a book. Ask them why they like or dislike what they’ve read. What did it make them think about? Did what they read challenge their thinking?
We can not allow a single test score to define us or our students. We should use data wisely but we cannot allow “testing” to steal our joy and to derail us from our mission. Testing should inform our instruction, not dominate it.
Kids will not remember you as the awesome teacher who prepped them for their big EOG test. They will remember you for dressing in character and using funny voices as you read aloud. They won’t remember that you taught them how to bubble test answers, but they will remember how you transformed your room for a book tasting.
Kids must have the opportunity to love learning. School must be fun. Students need time to explore, solve real world problems, and read without any constraints. Be sure students leave your classroom with a greater love of learning than they entered it with.