This is the most discouraging time of year…the two weeks between spring break and CRCT. You remember the feeling, when cramming for a test in college, that no matter how hard you studied you would never be able to get it. Well, as a teacher, I have that feeling now. Only I am not the one taking the test. I have taught my heart out all year. I have come at every standard from every possible angle. I have reviewed and spiraled and reviewed again, but in these two weeks I wonder if I am wasting my life.
It happens every year. I come back from spring break and start the daunting task of trying to refresh my students on everything they have learned…ever. Remember my kids are the ones who struggle to learn for numerous reasons, so my job is to get them up on the basics of reading and math. I take my job seriously, because if they cannot read they cannot survive. I pour my heart and soul into it. My technique is to treat every student as if they are the child of Jesus. (Which of course they are) As if he will be coming for a parent conference and I will have to explain to him what I am doing for his kid. I find that this keeps my head on the real task, pouring love into the kids and I don’t get so caught up in the stuff that doesn’t matter so much…until these two weeks. It is alarming to me when I ask “what is a noun?” to my fifth graders, whom I have been teaching for at least two years, and they look at me like deer in the headlights. When I give the hint, “what does an adVERB describe?” and they say pronoun. I ask them to round numbers and they cannot tell me which column is the hundreds, much less figure out how to round it. About this time, I begin to sweat bullets. My breathing becomes shallow and I can feel my blood pressure rise. It is like this every day for 10 days. By Friday, I may not have a hair left on my head due to the fact I will be pulling them out each day. It is like beating your head against a brick wall.
Ultimately I know, in my heart that what I do matters. I know that they are getting more than I can see or more than a stupid test can measure. The smiles they give me tell me that. The fact that they have a safe place to get some affirmation and love, is far more important to these kids than if they can produce a correct answer on a test. I have to tell myself that. I have to remember they came to me sometimes 2 or more grade levels behind, and a 1 ½ year gain is an accomplishment, even if it doesn’t show up on a test written above their reading level. The life skills I teach…caring, kindness, diligence, confidence, self-worth…are invaluable even though we never measure them. Therefore, I give myself a pep talk today and every day this week. I say I can do this. They will be fine. The test isn’t a measure of how good a teacher I am…even if the government thinks it is. I matter. The kids matter. What we do every day matters. In light of eternity, a test is nothing, but a soul…matters. So off I go, to pour in information that may or may not stick. Deep breaths are in order this day. Discouragement is banished. And when all else fails…I break out the anointing oil and pray my guts out…because it matters. 🙂

One thought on “Discouragement

  1. Faith is the great motive power, and no man realizes his full possibilities unless he has deep conviction that life is eternally important and that his work well done is a part of an unending plan.(C. COOLIDGE)

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