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Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Reality Isn't

March 2012 Slice of Life Story Challenge, hosted by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers!

I revere myself as a positive person. I think it can probably get a little "thick" for people at times, but I hope most can appreciate this aspect of my personality. Now, here comes the confession, there are some things, despite the cheery nature, that immediately evoke a negative response. I may not wear that reaction, but inside I look like this!
It typically comes after someone says "the reality is...."  
Oh, good grief, even typing it right now elicits a tense stomach and scowl...
amazing how powerful words can be!
I hate to say that I am that weak; we all have buttons that get pushed (and there is that salsa thing too).

But, let's get back to that positive attitude, the one that doesn't back down or get overwhelmed by assessment data, its meaning, and the incredible push to make everyone the same. [Deep Breath]
I am a firm believer that the only way to get through something challenging is to understand why it is a challenge. I like to examine and reflect why something is a problem for me and do something.
Yes, there are realities. Other people far far away decide what my students should know and have determined a  lock step standard, benchmark or goal for each month of the school year. These of course don't always match up to the goals I set based on "the real" information about "the real" child. "The reality is" I have a square hole and a round peg that need to somehow fit together--what is real? They don't fit together because one is square and one is round, genius, right!

What is real...I am the prism. Each child reflects their understanding on the spectrum that is learning. We are not the same. We each display a different shade of understanding. This diversity is what makes teaching and learning so rewarding.
I would much rather spend my time evaluating and resolving the challenges children bring that are REAL. 

18 comments:

  1. Your post is a ray of light into my test-prep darkened world! It's as if you wrote this as a direct reply to my SOLC post yesterday. Your well-written post has reminded me of who I am and how I let March Madness overwhelm me. I am going to print your post out and keep it in my plan book. I love your metaphor of being the prism and i realize the the source of my frustration is that these tests minimize my kids. Thanks for making my day.
    Diane Buchanan

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    1. Well I will go read your post now! I do find that once I know why something is challenging me I can then either accept it or try to work through it.

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  2. I love the idea of the prism. They are reflective, beautiful and ever changing when you look at them - just like the students we teach each day. I love the way you rise up to the challenge instead of backing down. And as for your positive attitude...if it gets "thick" for someone, that is their problem, not yours. Shine on!

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    1. Thanks, the thicker the better right? Maybe some positivity will slide off me and land on someone who needs it :)

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  3. You offered me insight in asking the question: WHY is a particular challenge a challenge? I also love the idea of the prism. Love the picture that shows your inside emotion. :)

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    1. It is interesting to assess why a challenge is a challenge...is it me, a lack of experience, a need for knowledge or something else?

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  4. What is real? I liked following your thought and was touched by your concern for each child.

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    1. Thank you. I hope others can focus on what is real for children.

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  5. That picture is too perfect for expressing your inner feelings. All I can say is Here, here! I have expressed my thoughts so well. And you analogy is absolutely brilliant!

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    1. I wanted to write "la la la la...I can't hear you" but I thought the picture did an even better job capturing that inner frustration I tend to feel in the moment.

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  6. You have painted an honest picture about the effect of standards on our students - and on a teacher's spirit! It is one thing to have goals, another thing to have "limits"/set expectations. I am so glad that I began teaching preschool long before I saw any preschool "standards." I am still teaching the way I always have, but now I take a lot of extra time to show how my emergent, individualized curriculum meets these blunt lists.

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    1. Yes, just another hurdle to jump while you keep moving toward victory.

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  7. I'm with you! Because you know what?!? The reality is that no matter what, we need to find a way to help all student grow and move forward. The phrase, "The reality is..." is just a polite or sophisticated way to couch an exuse, which may be actually be an issue, but like you said...Let's problem solve!

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    1. I do feel like the phrase is "polite" or intended to be, but at the same time tells me to stop thinking and talking because the reality cloud is always looming. Realities scare people but to me they are not tangible. They can't possibly hurt me or my students unless I let them.

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  8. Wow, you have said what many of us think. I too like the word "prism". I may use that word as a metaphor. I'm closer to retiring than you and know that it is tough but I'm glad there are teachers like you who are still out there trying to teach and help each individual child learn. As you said your "positive attitude" along with allowing your intuition will bring every child to the place where they should be. Love them! A wise young teacher told me that one time when I was very concerned about how I was going to get something across to an autistic child. You will be surprised how that does help as well. Enough said. You'll do well. That's the reality... Happy Slicing? :)

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  9. Bets,
    Amen! I am so thankful to have prepared for my career as an educator in the time where "kid watching" was taught and valued. I'm so thankful to Ken & Yetta Goodman (and many educator/researchers) who took the time to find ways to collect valuable student information in a qualitative way. You make a great point that the data doesn't always tell the real stories about the real children filling our classrooms. All of this collection of quantitative data has in many ways led to a narrowing of curriculum. It is unfortunate that we are trying to place kids in neat little boxes. I wonder what message it sends to our children?

    Cathy

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  10. I like that you think about what your kids can do and where you want to lead them. I also like that you haven't abandoned your knowledge about your kids and handed over your power to those who don't know your kids. Your students are lucky to have you. :)

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