At this point in the year, I will be very honest: I’m struggling. My motivation isn’t very high and I’m getting a little worn down. We have been doing test prep at my school since spring break (which was about a month ago) and I’m getting bored with it. I’ve never really been a huge fan of direct instruction, and going through these test prep workbooks every single day is getting so monotonous.
Let’s be real here. If I’m bored with this test prep I’m teaching, I KNOW my students will be bored with the material, too. I feel like I’m almost stuck in some kind of bubble-sheet-number-two-pencil-EOG rut, and I’m trying my hardest to make class fun again; however, lately it has proven at times harder for me to remember what got me so passionate in the first place about this profession.
While I have been doing test prep, there has been a small team of resource teachers pulling third graders in the afternoons to conduct reading tests. We are blitz teaming these end of year tests so we don’t have to drill testing more than we already are, which I can appreciate.
The librarian is one of the teachers who is testing some of my kids, and she pulled one of my hardest working students yesterday for his test. This student moved from Honduras to the United States when he was in first grade, and entered third grade at a reading level K. For any non-teachers reading this, that puts the student at a first grade reading level. I watched this boy soar as the year progressed, and was thrilled when January came and he was reading on a level M (this is the level on which students should enter third grade) and I referred him for AIG math services. His hard work and dedication have been a breath of fresh air, and his love for learning has been so evident as we have maneuvered through the various learning targets and standards for each subject.
Yesterday, this child was pulled for his reading test. I have been excited (and honestly kind of nervous, too) to see how my students have progressed, but I was especially intrigued by this particular student. He was gone for a long portion of the afternoon and he returned to class saying that he “passed the P.” Now, what does this mean, you ask?
In short, it means that this child is on grade level. My sweet little Honduran nugget is a rockstar and he’s reading on a level Q, which is bordering above grade level reading.
Summary: he went from a level K to a level Q in a year. This is incredible.
When he told me about his final results, I teared up. He hugged me and I told him how proud I was of him and reminded him how hard he’s worked this year to get to where he is with his reading (and math, too!).
I pulled another one of my ELLs out into the hallway this morning before class started. I wanted to tell her that she passed both her reading and math practice EOGs and congratulate her on her hard work that is now so obviously paying off. When I told her, she started crying (which obviously then made me shed a tear or ten with her) and could only say, “I’m so happy, I’m so happy!” This girl has done extra work in workbooks at home, she’s one of the few who knows the majority of her multiplication facts by heart, and she’s always trying to push herself to learn more. She asked if I would write a note to her parents, and she said, “I can’t wait to tell my mom — she’s going to be so proud of me.”
(Insert a break here for a moment of tears — it’s okay, just let it all out right now.)
These anecdotes of achievement and hard work make my heart the happiest. I literally could not be prouder of these children. I am thrilled to see what their educational future holds, and I’m so honored to have gotten the opportunity to be part of their lifelong learning experience. When I think about Teacher Appreciation Week coming up next week, I can’t help but stop to wonder how appreciated teachers would feel if they’d focus on positives. I often think to myself, “Hey Allison, you work really hard and you spend hours outside of school working on lessons and other things for school — does anyone care or really even benefit from it?” Taking time to reflect on my year, especially in lieu of the progress that these students have made, it’s just so obvious to me how much it does matter and how much my students do benefit from it.
I find it imperative to be reflective in this profession. I truly don’t know what I would do without my amazing third grade team and all of the priceless friends and family I have who support me, and everyone’s encouraging words throughout this year have meant more to me than you’ll probably ever really know. It’s so easy to burn out, but if we take the time to remind ourselves of why we do what we do and how much even the smallest things impact our students, I think we’d all get a new perspective to see how much we make a difference every day.