Saturday, April 18, 2015

Doing the Right Thing is an Act of Leadership

In the United States, we are asked to do things in the name of education that may not always be what's best for kids. We test the heck out of kids, but to what end? We aren't handed standardized kids, so what do high stakes standardized tests do to us? If we use them as benchmarks to make sure we're progressing at an appropriate rate that's one thing. But when we tie school funding, teacher jobs, and student retention to tests, I think we're doing children a disservice. Distilling a child's year down to 320 minutes in April is not an accurate check of progress. And to the students who trip, fumble, or make any misstep on their tests, the emotional damage may be manageable, but it's not fair.

But what to do? I don't write the laws, and I feel like there's too much money in the testing game for it to go away quietly. So I take the most important step that I can take. And from my point of view, it's a small on. I tell my students, I teach them, I show them that they are more than a test. I give them opportunities to learn who they are and what matters to them. I help them find their voices, and teach them to share their truth. I encourage them to do their best on every test, but I tell them there isn't any test that can define whether or not they're a good person, or tell them that they're dumb. I tell them that the smartest student can do badly on any test, and that the struggling student can learn strategies to be just as (if not more) effective as anybody else.

These are small efforts on my part, but to my students, they are so important, and when I share my voice, my actions grow. I am a teacher, and that means it's my job to lead.

No comments:

Post a Comment