I have been through some of the “ups and downs” of standardized testing. Some schools are intense about testing; almost bordering on putting testing above children. Other schools desire the best results, but make it known that these results will not come at the expense of the students. Interestingly, no matter at which end of the spectrum the school stands, every school I have worked in, has some form of standardized test to administer.
Comparing school to school, you find there are many factors that influence the level of anxiety felt by the teaching staff. Imagine… one school is filled with students who are struggling.The stress in that school comes as teachers agonize over how to get their students to perform well. Imagine another school filled with children who typically score well. Their problem is certainly not performance: their stress comes from a lack of “growth” as measured year-to-year.
In my state, part of our overall school rating comes from that growth measurement. As it becomes increasingly difficult to show growth, you can be sure that anxiety level is soaring to new heights. So keep in mind, every teacher and school faces unique accountability challenges.
You have a personal decision to make; how will you deal with the stress that is surely coming your way?
Imagine high stakes testing being a cauldron of boiling water. You are being thrust into that water: you’re either a carrot, an egg, or coffee. Your choice!
Some teachers are like the carrot: when they are in the boiling water, thy go soft and lose much of their passion for educating young people. They allow themselves to wallow in the “agony of defeat.” That is not my choice.
How about the egg? When it boils, it develops a hard exterior shell. Will you allow the pressures of your job to cause you to become hard and calloused toward the children you teach? Another poor choice.
Or, you could choose to be like coffee beans which, when boiled, change the water. They transform it into coffee: warm, inviting, and invigorating. These are our choices.
For me: let me be the teacher who is warm toward her students – even when the job is boiling hot. Let me be inviting to my colleagues and to my parents as partners. Finally, let me be invigorated by the challenges set forth by my profession.
The choice has been mine to make for over a decade. Whether you have been teaching one year or forty, you are faced daily with the choice to respond.
Perhaps you have other waters that boil for you. This issue is devoted to testing, but the theory applies to any aspect of your personal and professional life. The most important decision you will make is the decision of how to react.
I hope you will be inclined to be coffee. And if so, I hope you will be the Maxwell House of coffees: “Good to the last drop.”