Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The heart of what matters

Day 4 of 31 days of writing!
The invisible-but-weighty clouds of testing hang ominously over our heads. Weeks of time consumed with arranging and verifying accommodations, writing sub plans, and watching students either toil resolutely for too many hours or just give up after too few.

How can I be excited to pour out my energy when I don't get to go to class or help my students? I feel like I'm losing myself because I don't get to teach.

How are my students supposed to remember that learning is fun when their days are consumed with overly arduous tests? They're losing the readers and writers they've become.

How will they realize all the progress they've made when they are constantly confronted by overwhelming passages and questions far above their frustration level? They're losing the strength and confidence they've gained.

How can they remember that they are special, unique, valuable people when they are wading through tests that tell them there is one right answer, one acceptable score, one way to become successful? They're losing the sense that they matter.

Those are things that no one should lose. So I printed out Peter Reynolds' wonderful encouragement poster that accompanies his short film, The Testing Camera, shrunk it into small cards, and copied them on colored paper. I got out my PARCC and OGT testing rosters, sat quietly, and thought about each student, one by one. And as I wrote small notes about their kindness, their enthusiasm, their attitudes, and their growth, the testing clouds started to dissipate.

mini-posters on the front, personal notes on the back :-)
I hope my words will bring some reassurance, smiles, and flutters of hope tomorrow morning. I hope they might be held in some hearts the way I still hold the words of some of my teachers.

But no matter what they mean to my students, they've already made a difference. As I wrote, I remembered just how much I love those kids, and that brought me back to the heart of what matters. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to work with these amazing students every day!


  1. I especially love the effort you made to show them how much you think of them.

  2. Jennifer,
    I love the way you personalized notes for each of your students. What a wonderful gift you gave them-- and I am glad it was also yourself. When someone tempts you to leave the classroom remember this feeling. You can't get it in any other part of education. LOVE is always the answer.

  3. Your kids know you are their biggest champion. These cards will just remind them every time they read them. You are just what they need.

  4. The only way to be, make lemonade out of lemons, right? Beautiful idea, Jennifer. Those notes will be the most special thing in all these days.

  5. For you and your kiddos. A reminder.


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