Wednesday, April 20, 2016

To My Students After STAAR Results

"Mrs. Bush, I wanted to thank you for being my teacher this year and helping me pass the STAAR test."

{cringing from hearing the STAAR reference}

Although nice to hear the gratitude from an 8th grader I wish I didn't hear the part about STAAR. Our STAAR results came out yesterday. We told students today whether they passed or failed. I had many happy students. I had hugs. I had tears of joy. I had sighs of relief. I had faces of disappointment. I had faces that told the story this was just like every year-failure.

My year doesn't revolve around this one test. One day. My students seem to think otherwise. Where does this come from?

When my 8th graders get to me they know they have to pass this test in order to go on to 9th grade. If not, it's summer school. They are under insane pressure. You have to pass 4 state tests this year. You have to pass all your classes. You have to study. You have athletic demands. You have extracurricular demands. You have to make good grades or you won't be accepted to the academy you want.

I want all my students to find success this year. What does success look like though? Maybe it's finding a book they finally enjoy. Maybe it's setting and reaching reading goals that are attainable. Maybe for some it's not academic at all. Maybe for others it's being comfortable in their own skin. {middle school is rough after all}

That's why, dear 8th graders I don't need to be thanked for helping you pass your test. My job is to teach you. I hope I've taught you many things this year: love for reading, discipline, thinking for yourself, questioning your world, and advocating for yourself are just a few. Notice passing the STAAR test isn't part of that list. You are more than a test score.  You are so much more. Never let them define who you are in that way. For those of you who didn't pass this time remember that failing is part of learning. Everyone fails sometime. That's what helps us know what we're made of. It's how we learn.

Thank you all for giving me the privilege of teaching you this year. You've challenged me, taught me, and inspired me.

I'm so proud of the work you've done this year. I'm proud of the young people you have become. I'm proud to be your teacher.

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