What Does it All Mean? Really?

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Why does it always feel like it comes down to this? I’m sitting here watching my students take their on-demand writing assessment for opinion writing. I know I have shown them ways to plan, ways to draft, elaborate, etc and yet here I sit, worried. I tried to explain the importance of doing our best today…but why? Shouldn’t we, at least, attempt to do our best every day with the realization that some days are better than others? Yet, I found myself falling into that test trap. The one where I think it all comes down to this moment. Everything we have done, all that we have worked for is somehow measured by a single sample of writing. This tension and stress may have been fed by an earlier freak out when I saw a sample of the “soon to come” M-Step assessment test sample. I wanted to just go crawl in a corner.

This is the first year I am finding myself faced with so much test pressure. I had it before, sure, but this year is definitely different. Tests on the computer, test prep and then, of course, all the curriculum. OH, and try to make it fun! I really try not to get too bogged down by the nonsense, but some days I lose the battle with myself and it gets the best of me. Today was one of those days.

Direction. Where to next? For starters, I need to see this as a moment to reflect and allow my students to reflect as well. Let them take a look at their piece of writing. Analyze it. Compare it to their other work. Take a look at a sample. What will they notice? When it really comes down to it, I know this is not their best, but do they? When I asked today they assuredly said, “YES!” What will they say tomorrow? I’m curious and it will be an interesting conversation.

I realize I also need to share. Share some of my blunders. It happens. Writing is a slippery slope. It is messy. Sometimes we strike gold while on other days all we find are bits of dirt. What I need them to realize is that sifting through the dirt is worth the mess because among those grains of grit can be flecks of sparkle.