Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 13 2011

Stress Waves

The math sections of AIMS started today. Remember when I said I wasn’t stressed out? I lied. I just didn’t figure it out until the room was quiet and pencils were moving. As I watched the kids test, I found myself wondering if I should get someone to watch my kids so I could run away and vomit.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, even in the moment: I believe in standardized testing. I really do. It makes me work hard every single day with my kids and it holds me accountable against the same bar as thousands of other classrooms. But watching my kids test, I started thinking about how all their effort is producing little NCLB numbers that will be used to judge my school and judge my kids and allow the world to make assumptions about how much we know and don’t know. If I didn’t review the right things recently enough, if I didn’t realize that the state standard included certain material, or if I made a bad judgment call about what parts of eighth grade math are actually important, it all comes down on my kids and my school and my scores. NO PRESSURE.

And then add to that the girl who’s always failed math AIMS by only a question or two, who came with her parents on Meet The Teacher night to decide how this year would be different, who suddenly has top grades in math and thinks it’s easy for the first time, who cried at parent-teacher conferences because she passed Benchmarks but not by a wide enough margin to match the 95% average she had in class, who has suddenly started doubting her new-found math ability as AIMS approaches and has her entire self-worth riding on this test score. She loves math now, but if she fails this test I’m afraid she’ll give up forever and I’ll never stop feeling like I let her down. Add her to the mix and then try not to feel invested in how this turns out.

So please excuse me while I try to smile happily at my kids and futilely try to not send stress waves through the classroom. Turns out it is surprisingly hard to do that while inside I’m trying to suppress my dizziness.

2 Responses

  1. Wess

    Thankfully, I don’t think I’m allowed to be in the room while my students are testing, or I’m sure there would be stress waves large enough to stifle anyone’s freshly-built math-self esteem…

  2. I vomited just reading this post.

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