Testing season has opened in North Carolina Public Schools. Over the next eight weeks we will train for a field test, administer the field test, review the field test, train for the state end-of-grade tests, administer the state end-of-grade tests, remediate for re-tests and administer the re-tests. Sigh. Deep, heavy, ragged sigh. I want to teach. I want to help students explore culture. I want to tap into their creativity. As I reflect on the sheer number of hours we will spend in still, silent, sequestered testing sessions, I am faced with a choice: work myself into a frenzy, fretting over time boxes, answer documents, test booklets and data or focus on why I do what I do.
And why do I roll out of bed at 5:00 every morning, looking forward to unlocking room 712? Because I have the privilege of unlocking more than a door each day. When students return smiles and greet learning experiences with enthusiasm, when they want to save the world and come alongside the classmate with special needs, I am filled with inexplicable energy (remember the 5:00 wake-up call). I feel like I could do this forever. Thirteen-year-olds really can display these positive characteristics, and unlocking them is crucial to maintaining joy in this profession. And it starts with me – my smiles, my enthusiasm, my willingness to let them try to save the world, my teaching them to come alongside the ones who need assistance.
There are a plethora of other things that keep me going, too. My colleagues, who are professional, learned, kind-hearted and helpful. The student mini-laptop program. Strong, freshly ground coffee in the workroom. A new(ish), beautiful facility. But number one? Students. And I refuse to let hours of standardized testing rob me of the joy of working with them.
How about you? What keeps you going this late in the year?
Kendal writes at a spacious place