The Sort-of-Scientific Method

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 16 2012

A Testing Tantrum

Day 28: Standardized testing can be the worst. Yes, I know that the tests my kids took today will help them and their teachers know what has to be done in English class before the big bad MCAS rolls around in the spring. However, from my perspective, I lost a science class I didn’t want to give up. I was reminded yet again that science is ranked well below English and math in today’s world of testing and accountability.

Far worse than either of those reasons for resenting today’s benchmark testing, however, is the fact that the tests take up only half of the day. And when the test is done, you don’t get your normal kids. Oh no. You get the nuts, amped-up, “I just sat in silence for three hours and you want me to work? Ha ha, fat chance!” version of your kids.

Given that, sixth period actually could have been worse. There was more chattiness than normal, but barely. More frustrating was the lethargy. I have a rule; if we’re not tracking and paying attention to the speaker, class stops. We will not keep going without the base level of respect that I have made clear our classroom community needs to operate smoothly.

Today, it might have taken me holding donuts and twenty-dollar bills and puppies to get my kids to look at me while I was speaking. Once I’d managed my kids away from chattiness, they entered a post-testing stupor. With my insistence on waiting for tracking and SLANTing, everything took twice as long, and we got next-to-nothing done.

To be fair to my kids, my plan was half-baked. Actually it was fully-baked, just baked poorly. One of those days when you think you’ve engineered something complete and solid, but really, not everything adds up. I had given out twice as many worksheets as I needed to; my variables and controls gallery walk had super-confusing directions; I sent multiple groups to the same station, where, still puzzled by the lesson, they got off task. My kids were confused, I was confused, we were all addled by Monday and testing, and no one was set up to succeed.

I could try to put a bow on this, over-analyze and find silver linings. The reality, however, is that I don’t need to. A mediocre day has come and gone. Tomorrow’s a new day.

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