Monday, February 19, 2007

tomorrow is the day

There are moments when it really is unbelievable how much time has passed. It's like when you start freshman year of college and you walk through your dorm hallway feeling all alone and you think: four years. Four years is so far away. How will I ever make friends and a life and be ready in four years? And then you blink and four years is over and you're getting a diploma and leaving friends you'd never thought you'd find and now can't imagine living without.

That was college. Now, happily, my life is based around 68 children. Sadly, my life is also based around those 68 children passing a battery of standardized tests. The first of those tests is tomorrow. I actually kind of thought this day would never come. I knew from the moment I walked through the doors of McReynolds that testing was the major player this year. With threat of closure if our students don't pass, all anyone seems to be thinking about is tests. Just add that to the pressure of being a first year teacher and it's an interesting ride. As any first year teacher can tell you, the word does two things while you're learning how to teach: it goes by at warp speed and it also moves painfully slow.  

Regardless of the twilight zone I was living in during the fall, time did in fact keep moving and my students are indeed testing tomorrow. It's a crazy thing to think that all the work we've done, all the writing prompts they've written and re-written, all the tutorials and all the grammar lessons all get boiled down to tomorrow. Or at least so says the state of Texas and that fine president of ours.

I think my students are as ready as they can be, but given the weakness they came in with and the time I lost just figuring out what the heck I was doing I don't really know. I hope they're ready. They deserve that much. They deserve to not feel like failures, to have the skills required to pass a grade-level writing test. So, I guess I really don't know.

I know that six of them have already called me tonight. There's something that sits in the pit of your stomach and makes you want to change the world when a 12-year-old calls you to ask "Miss, if I fail the test are they going to close the school." There's also a part of your heart that breaks when you lie and say no.

Sometimes I can't believe how fast four years went by. I'm starting to get the same feeling with this year. I can't believe how fast the end of the year is coming. Unfortunately for my students, it would be better if time really did go as slow as you think it will at the start the year.  

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