Our students > a state test

This past week I had students ask me about STAAR (Texas state assessment) and when it was slated to be given. My first response was the month but that didn’t stop my wondering minds standing in front of me. They wanted to know the dates and whom would be testing them (they are in small group and individual testing locations). You see, my students are in special ed and this assessment creates a lot of unknown and fear for them. It changes their normal, changes where they attend for the day, and changes what they see. It creates a lot of anxiety for them and adults alike and these are JUST ten and eleven year olds.

When I was able to look up the dates, my students started to look upset, rock, and get very quiet (very unlike them). The FEAR and anxiety had started in January. JANUARY! As an educator and someone who struggled at their age with learning, this breaks my heart into a million pieces.

As a Special Education Teacher, my job isn’t defined by a state assessment. I meet my students individual needs each and every day! My job is defined and reviewed by an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and meeting the needs of my students each and every day. Do some of my students take the regular STAAR with accommodations, yes. Some of my students also take the STAAR-Alt due to their disabilities. But the STAAR doesn’t define my students or myself each day!

My students are SO MUCH more than just what is on paper and what a snapshot of the test day gives and brings. The STAAR test is a day in their school year. It DOES NOT define who they are and what they have to offer. It’s not individualized or what level they are on. It’s a standardized assessment. Just a test on a given day that is a snapshot of that day not what all a student can and can’t do!

As the STAAR (or a your state assessment) gets closer and closer, I have to stop, take a breath, and tell my students each day that they are SO MUCH more than a state assessment. It DOES NOT define who they are, what they offer, and who they will become. It’s just a TEST. To them, though, it’s a day in the week that throws their who day and schedule off. It has problems that are too difficult compared to the level they are at and it’s tense. To them, it’s a day that is not routine and scheduled like they are used to. To them, it’s so much more than JUST a test.

In a world that assesses our students, we have to remember that our students are still KIDS who have questions, fears, and anxiety just like us but they don’t have the adult attached to them to be able to breathe and process like us.  Our students are SO MUCH more than just a test! 

As state assessments get closer and closer, I challenge educators to have those conversations about when the assessments occur, how STATE assessments do NOT define what students are, and how AMAZING our students are each and every day!

KEEP CALM and TEACH students who are SO much more than a test!

Pour out joyful gratitude

Last week, I participated in the #Kidsdeserveit twitter chat & something that was brought up sparked an interest and had me thinking for the rest of the week. The question was posed and so many great responses were given.

How can we show gratitude all year long in meaningful and lasting ways? More than “tell them” or “write them notes”. Think deep!

Think about it. It’s not just about students. It’s about each person we encounter each and every day. Whether it is students, family, or anyone in proximity. It’s the people we smile at, say hello to, and are surrounded by each and every day.  So the question remains, how can we show gratitude each and every day in a meaningful way? 

It’s not hard…you SHOW others your appreciation by doing. You give back, you participate in random acts of kindness, you make their day, and you show kindness. Kindness goes beyond just the simple hello; kindness digs deeper. It allows you to make a connection with the other party. It’s the act of time that makes the world of difference.

The act of time and showing others how grateful you are for them day in & out goes above and beyond telling them. You act, curate a bond, show kindness, & build someone up with gratitude. Don’t overthink it! Get to know the people you are surrounded by each and every day. Take a moment to ask about their interests and their families. Notice what makes each person unique.

Act through joyful gratitude for the person! It will mean the world to someone each and every day. No act is too small or too great; it’s the act of gratitude that means the world to each person. Fill the world with joyful gratitude towards others each & every day.

Color the world with joyful gratitude through actions