On Wednesday, I will take a high-stakes, state-mandated, standardized test for the first time in nearly fifteen years. The state of TN requires that every pre-service teacher take multiple Praxis exams before we can get certified, and so I’ve been preparing myself for this week’s Teaching Reading test. It will be the first of two, three-hour long tests that I take before January comes to a close. I’ve spent hours every day for the past week studying until my back hurt and my head ached, trying to prepare myself to prove that I have what it takes to educate a child with a disability by filling in bubbles on a multiple-choice test. I don’t know whether it’s enough. And like Leslie Knope up there, I’m not sure I’m emotionally equipped to handle it if I don’t do well on this.
If a 32-year-old woman is this worried about it, can you imagine what it’s like for a child to do this every day for a week, every year, for ten years?? (That’s another post though….)
I read a quote once saying “be the person you needed when you were younger.” I’m going to try to be the person I (and maybe some future test-takers) need right now.
This test does not define you.
This test cannot measure whether you are a good student. It doesn’t measure all the hours you spent in intense study, all the pages of notes you wrote and rewrote, or the pages of textbooks and research you read and reread to prepare for this test.
Your score on this test will show the extent to which you were able to select the answer the test-writers wanted you to select. That’s all! Your score will not show whether you are prepared to teach students with special needs.
There is no test for how deeply you love your students.
There is no test for how excited you get when you come up with a cool idea for a lesson plan, or how passionately you craft that lesson.
There is no test for how well you consider the needs of students from diverse backgrounds when you plan your activities, or how flexibly you adapt when a student needs something different.
There is no test for how much you care about education, teachers, students, or schools.
Your test score can’t tell anyone about the way you cried when you helped your student with intensive needs push his walker across the stage at his graduation.
Your score can’t tell anyone about the thank-you note your student’s parents gave you after he won the class award for Achievement in Social Studies that said “you allowed him to rise.”
It can’t tell anyone about the letter your coworker wrote describing you as a super hero who wields slam poetry instead of weapons.
Your test score just shows how well you chose the answers you were expected to choose at 9am on January 18th.
This test does not define you. This test does not make you any less or any more qualified for the job.
You are more complex, more passionate, more inventive, and more dedicated than can be quantified.
Don’t even let this test give you pause — because you are unstoppable.