Last year I had a very difficult combination of students in my classroom. We were on pins and needles most of the time. It felt nearly impossible to create a safe classroom. Put bluntly, it was hard to teach and learn in my classroom last year. I felt like a terrible teacher on a daily basis. But wait! Mid-year scores came in and the kids did great on the NWEA. My administrator complimented me on the scores. I was a good reading teacher. Yay, me!
At my end-of-the-year evaluation, however, my target group did not make enough growth. Because of that, I was deemed as an effective, not highly effective teacher. I was advised to contact some of the reading experts in the building. Maybe I could get my teaching skills polished if I observed one of them. I took it to heart. I officially sucked.
In my conversation with my administrator, only my deficits were discussed. The numbers were brought up and "numbers don't lie." There was no mention of the nature of my classroom that year. and how that may have effected the learning in my room. No mention of my successes, the biggest one being I survived the year. I went back to my room and wept. (I was barely holding it together that year.)
Fast forward to this year. I teach two separate classes. One happens to be a little more focused and cooperative. I teach the same lessons to each class. We just took our mid-year NWEA test. I was shocked to see that one my classes grew substantially and the other class not so much. Same. Lessons. So, why the difference?
The class that did better was my homeroom. Was it because I had more of a relationship with them? Is it because we write in our gratitude and reflection journals every day? Is it because we pause for a minute of silence and reflection at the end of the day? Or, is it because one class is more focused and the other class less so? I cannot know for sure.
But this I do know for sure: When it comes to high-stakes test scores, everything we do matters and nothing we do matters. Wait, let me explain.
We do what we know is right for our kids.
We build community,
We teach our students in
we pick up,
we check for understanding,
we small-group it,
we blend it,
we stir it up.
And when it comes to taking the
When it comes to that day, those days,
for any given child,
some of that will have mattered,
much of that may have mattered,
and perhaps none of that will have mattered.
on that day. for that child.
What then matters?
What matters is that we are true to our core values.
What matters is that we are constant learners, evaluators, and activators.
What matters is that we count the things that the test does not.
And that we have done what we know is right for our kids.