In the secondary setting, we are often left to our own vices in our classrooms until the end of January. It is then we start hearing more and more about year end assessments and state mandates for student success. Our faculty meetings become filled with statistics, and committees are formed to plan out the incentives for those who give "good faith effort." And life as we knew it comes to a screeching halt.
For years I argued that I taught and tested what needed to be taught and tested in my classroom. I argued that I knew my students without completing charts or graphs on each question they missed. I argued that I knew my subject matter, and that I knew how to teach! But in the end, as testing has continued to take over our classrooms, I lost. So now, we plan for student success. And if we didn't start that planning in August (which makes more sense), it starts to hit home in January.
In reality, those who are true teachers are already doing everything they need to do to help our students do their best on the end of year assessments. We pre-teach, pre-assess, teach, review, formatively assess, reteach, review, summatively assess, and evaluate. We work daylight to dark to prepare multi-disciplinary, differentiated, rigorous lessons. And we empty our own purses to see that our students have what they need to work toward success from where they are in their own lives.
But there's something missing here.
Truth. Reality. Relevance.
Those tests - they do NOT matter. What matters is that our students are prepared for life. Life includes meeting deadlines (unit tests and project due dates). It includes rejection (poor grades and editing of papers). It includes competition (not everyone is at the top of the class). More importantly, life is about finding things that you love and enjoying them passionately.
So, as you head toward testing season, I have one piece of advice for you...
Teach what you love with passion.
What you love, they may come to love.
And the truth is... none of us loves a test!