As a teacher, testing week can be incredibly focus-encompassing. Not necessarily because I am worried about how my students will do – I’m very aware that it is up to them to take it seriously and do their best. At this point, as a teacher, what is done is done – I know I’ve done my best this year, I know I’ve prepared them, it does little good to spend a month worrying over the scores until they come in. Worry won’t help anything, the scores will be what they will be.
However, what usually hits me really hard at this time of year is just… I’m tired. Everyone’s tired. The students are tired, the teachers are tired, the administrators are tired – we’re all just exhausted, worn down, and ready for summer to come. The pressure put on everyone is just immensely huge, and it begins to wear everyone down after a time. Even when no one is walking around putting the pressure on, it’s naturally there simply because of the environment and anticipation.
I tell my students the only thing I think I really can – as long as they do their best, how can I be angry with any results? They’re prepared, they just need to use the knowledge we’ve learned this year. At a tiny little school, each kid doesn’t count as a fraction of a percent like at the larger schools. Instead, each kid counts for anywhere between 3 to 7 percent. They have ten kids fail at larger schools, and they can still get above 95-98 percent passing rates. We have ten kids fail, it puts us in the unacceptable range – in fact, WAY below what’s expected. People say small schools aren’t good things, but truly – in small schools, EVERY kid counts. In larger schools, those who need the most help can fall through the cracks because they don’t count as much for the school scores. Not that anyone purposefully lets kids fall through, but when each teacher can have upwards of 240 students, that’s a lot to keep track of! (The grading must be insane.)
I think the most students I’ve ever had to monitor at any one time is around 100 – less than half the workload of those at larger schools. I know every student walking around that hallway – every single one. I know their names, I know their demeanors and behavior, I know their likes and dislikes, I know about their families at least – if I don’t know them personally… truly, my experience at small schools is that we get to know our students incredibly well. I’ve spent 9 years teaching at small schools. I went to high school in a large school (between 4000 and 5000 kids attending at the time). No teachers knew me as well as I know my students.
Anyway – this was a very, very long way to say… I should be able to resume my Thursday posts now. Testing week is over, and while the school year isn’t over yet, the pressure will be a little more relaxed now. I’ll have a bit more time for my hobbies (like writing), and I won’t be quite so exhausted. I hope.
I do feel a cold coming on – has anyone ever noticed how your body seems to know when the pressure is off, and so suddenly, you get sick when you haven’t been for a very long time? Oh… yeah. Pain in the tooshie.