Sunday, September 14, 2014

Trust me

There has been a buzz in the air about standardized testing that seems to be getting louder and louder.  

This isn't a post about my feelings on that.  Not really.  It is a post about my feelings on what is the most  important thing.  

I am not a parent.  I won't pretend that I know or understand the emotional undertaking that it involves.  However, I will say this: 

  • I don't really like it when other people watch my dogs.  They just don't love them like I love them. 
  • I don't really like other people to drive my car.  My mirrors are just right and I don't like the radio station pre-sets to be changed. 
  • I'm not a fan of anyone else cooking in my kitchen.  I know where things are and I like it that way.  
Now, these things are important to me but they are a far cry from tiny people that I birthed from my own body or accepted the great task of looking after.  

I understand how much faith parents place in me each day to keep their child safe, engaged, and encouraged.  I may not be able to understand wholly but I can empathize with what it is like to allow someone else to spend as many hours as I do with their child.  I imagine that your children are your "world" and I appreciate and value that it must be so hard to leave them with someone for an entire day.  I get all of this so I KNOW how hard it might be for you to do what I am about to ask you to do next. 

Trust me.  Trust that I am going to do the best I possibly can for your child.  

I'm not saying I'm perfect or anywhere close to it but know that I will do my best.  

No, we might not get to the last question on the "Problem Set," and yes, I might have to change the date of the quiz because I don't think everyone is ready for it.  But that is OK with me.  

When your child makes a connection and the class values his or her opinion and the conversation distracts us from the lesson, I will weigh that situation and do what I think is best for the community.  I know that we will get back to that skill and I am not so naive that I don't understand and value the importance of that standardized test that is always looming in the future.  However, giving your child a voice seems pretty darn important to me too.  Allowing your child to make connections to their peers and foster a safe and nurturing environment can be rewarding and life changing.  Perhaps, more so than any test.  

When we are outside at recess and your child finds an egg sac on a leaf and wants to know what kind of insect it is, I might skip silent reading that day and let the kids have an authentic scientific experience.  We may not get to talk about a reading comprehension skill, however, they will learn even more because they are invested in finding an answer.  They are finding value in inquiry and building a foundation for lifelong learning.  Trust me, that matters more than any score on a test. 

It's going to happen.  Your kid is going to say "Nothing," when you ask him or her what they did at school today.  It isn't unusual for me to spend 10 or more hours at school every day.  My entire Sunday is usually spent researching, planning, and engaging myself in professional development with other teachers just like me.  There might be times where we are all stressed and we have some silent reading time, review time, or a dance break to break the funk.  But I never have, nor ever will come to school and do "nothing" with your child.  I set high personal goals and standards and I do what I can to meet them.  I expect the same of your child.  They might come home upset with me for pushing them today but we have established trust and they know I want what is best for them.  They might come home tired because I found multiple ways to engage and excite them throughout the day.  They will probably come home silent because I have given them multiple opportunities to discuss their learning with their peers throughout the day and they just don't know what or how to tell you.  Trust me, they didn't do nothing.  Try to find another way to ask the question.  Connecting with your kids about their day might take extra effort, you might have to work it out of them, it might turn into a much longer discussion than you thought.  Trust me, it will be more important than any test score.  

I will mess up some days.  My big ideas will fall flat.  I might trip and fall on my face.  My SmartBoard might break or I might put the wrong answer on the board.  You'll probably hear about that.  Trust me, I'm OK with that.  If your kid sees me dust myself off, get back on that "horse" and keep going, it will teach them to persevere and learn from their mistakes.  Not just believe that one day, one moment, or one test defines them.  And that is way more important than any one test score.  

So, trust me.  Trust that I will do the best I can for your child every day.  I will notice them, I will talk with them, I will enjoy them, I will push them, I will encourage them, I will challenge them, I will care for them, I will advocate for them.  Trust me, because I see them as the unique, individual, and important part of you that they are.    

Because to me, they are way more important than a test score.  


  1. Maria,
    I knew I liked you. This is great. Very much from the heart. Your students are very lucky.

  2. This was such an important post to read. I've been feeling much like this lately with some issues surrounding education as well, and you've put it into words perfectly. Focusing on the learners is such an integral part to teaching--far more important than the numbers accompanying them.