Today was the English II STAAR EOC (State of Texas) exam for my students, following the English I exam on Tuesday. I’d like to share some reflections.
First, I want to share something from the past. I remember the moment I finally became an elementary teacher. I started in December, taking over a classroom that had been through 2 teachers and several subs. It wasn’t until May that I finally “arrived”. After having worked in Jr. High and High School, no part of me wanted to work in an elementary school… and it did not suit me. I took the job because it was what I could get mid-year, in a new state. One day we had a book parade, and my class rocked it. We chose the perfect book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I bought 1 poster board per student. I drew foods on each one, and had each kid cut a whole in the middle. They got acrylic paints and did made patchy 2nd grade masterpieces on them. It was perfection. We made a caterpillar, and I ended the line as the butterfly. We could tell the entire story with our class–from beginning to end. As we walked by the other classes, one teacher leaned over and said, “You ARE an elementary teacher.” I actually cried.
After that year, I returned to high school–back to my homeland. But, I was not unchanged. Every class I teach will forever be stamped by what I did there in those few months, with those sweet 2nd-grade souls.
On this blog I have often reflected on the fact that no matter what I teach, I am a teacher. But, today, in the midst of a light-hearted discussion with my principal, in which I reminded him that I’d love to teach Spanish again one day, and
he politely reminded me that that will never happen. This is partly because he already has a Spanish teacher, and partly because even if he didn’t, he wouldn’t let me teach it. More specifically, he wouldn’t let me stop teaching English.
He can see what I could not. He already sees me as an English teacher, when I’m still desperate to reject that label altogether. While I still have my preferences, the truth is that I am an English teacher.
On that note, when my students take big tests like this, I tend to believe their results say more about me than they do about the students. As the tests approach, I pray the results reflect what the kids have learned. I pray that even if they don’t pass, they at least grow from where they were last year. I pray that I did them justice. They deserve so much, and I hope I did what I could to get them where they need to be.
Last reflection: Many people comment about the “fun” we’ll have now that we can “let our hair down” after the test. UMMMMM. A.) We were having fun before. B.) We aren’t going to switch to a blow-off curriculum after the test. I saved this last 6 weeks for the real fun: research! YES. We cannot ignore those TEKS just because they aren’t tested.