Friday, April 25, 2008

When You've Got To Slow Down

Here we are, late April, finally. The end is near, here in New Mexico, it's now less than four weeks away. That means a few things. First of all, it means that we're running out of time, but it also probably means that students are having a little difficulty staying focused, most teachers are starting to drag a little bit, and administration is still breathing down everyone's neck, does that sound about right?

Well, if your state is anything like New Mexico, you might have some lag time between your standardized testing and the end of the year. We take it to extremes here, taking the test over 10 school weeks before the end of the year, yes 10. That means that the pressure is in full gear up until the last week of February. The testing then takes place for two weeks, and the last 10 weeks, most of March (with Spring Break mixed in there), April, and May coming after the storm.

For me, this is a golden opportunity to do some actual teaching and let my kids actually learn (let's stop it with all this essential learning, back to basics nonsense, I'm talking about those 'nice to know' things that all teachers wish they had time to teach).

In terms of literacy, this means more self selection, more multimedia tie ins, more long discussions, and more chances to take risks on some new and untested books.

We've lost touch with our students so much that it sickens me. School has been reduced to numbers, students nothing but test scores and labels of advanced, proficient, nearing proficient, or beginning step. It's ridiculous, we need to stop patting ourselves on the back every time a kid goes up two percentage points on the test, and start patting ourselves on the back when a kid pulls a book off the shelf for fun or because they're interested, that's what it's all about, everything else is nonsense.