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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

To My Kindergarten Class...

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Dear Class,

You should not read this blog because you are five or six and you are in kindergarten, but there are some things I want to say and this is the place I always come to when I need to work out my thoughts.

There are just some things people shouldn't know about their kindergarten teachers. Things you shouldn't know about me. The day you stop believing that I live in our class room, have Santa on speed dial and am close personal friends with Zero the Hero is the day the world begins to lose some of it's magic and you start to believe stupid things like standardized test scores being more important than fairy tales and daydreams.

There are a few things that are more important than fairy tales and daydreams. A standardized test score isn't one of those things.

I want you to know that I am sorry. I am sorry that in around 9 hours I'll be responsible for giving you a standardized test. I am sorry that from this day forward you will be constantly bombarded with standardized test in school. I am sorry that someone somewhere, someone who doesn't know you and hasn't met you will draw conclusions about who you are and how successful you'll be in life based on how well you score on these standardized tests. I am sorry because you are five or six and you are in kindergarten and you should be playing instead of testing.

You were sent home from school on Monday and told to get a good nights sleep and to eat a good breakfast before coming back to class. You should be sleeping now. I should be sleeping now.

I can't sleep because I'm worried about you. I've thought all night about what I can say to encourage you; to remind you of just how wonderful you are. Right now, it feels important for me to say that while you are, can and will be lots of things it is the thing that you aren't that matters most.

You are not a test score!

Through the years you will be forced to sit through more of these tests than anyone can count and you will have teachers who will handle them differently. Some teachers will try to make you believe that the future of the entire world depends on how well you score, others will simply tell you to do your best and trust that you will. I hope that I have been like the latter, but fear that I have probably jumped back and forth between the extremes. I am sorry if I have made you feel pressured to do well. I am sorry because you are five or six and you are in kindergarten and you are not a test score.

There will be questions on this test that you can't answer. I know that you will look at me with pleading eyes expecting help. I am sorry that I won't be able to offer that help. Please understand that it makes me as sad as it will make you. It makes me sad because you are five or six and you are in kindergarten and you are not a test score.

You will take lots of test during your educational career. Some will be long, others short. Some will take forever to finish and others will go quickly. Some tests you will enjoy and find easy; others ~ not so much. Just remember that there is more to you than any test score can ever reveal.

Through the years you will take some important tests too. Your courage will be tested. Your faith, loyalty, honesty, willpower, integrity and patience will all be tested. These are the only tests that really matter. The only tests I truly hope you never have to say you've failed.

I am tired now so I am going to try to sleep. When I see you in class I will smile and remind you to go to the bathroom, to listen carefully to the directions, to think about your answers and to do your best.

That's all you need to do. Nothing more and nothing less. Leave all the worrying to me because you are five or six and you are in kindergarten and you are not a test score.

20 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this post. I want to let you know that I posted a link to your blog in CBH Digital Scrapbooking Freebies, under the Page 5 post on Apr. 10, 2012. Thanks again.

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  2. Your blog today was truly one of the best essays on the essence of testing that I have ever read. I was in tears by the end. It should be sent to every newspaper, school administrator, and government official. What we are doing to our children and their teachers borders on criminal. When I taught I often said to parents...your job is to get your child through this system with their ego and creativity intact. You will need to work hard at it.

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  3. Geez, I started tearing up at your word art, and then after reading your post, I am fully engaged in crying!
    YOU are a wonderful soul who is touching the lives of your students in such a caring and supporting way. They are truly blessed to have you in their lives, as are the students you have yet to teach.
    Thank you for sharing who you are with us as well.

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  4. Thanks Ginger for the fabulous freebie. hugs Shirleyxxxxxx

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  5. TY so much for all of your sayings you give us! They're GREAT!!! :)

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  6. Thank you for your word art. Thank you for being such a caring teacher. I pray that my grandchildren get such a loving, caring teacher as you & continue to as they go through their school years.

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  7. Oh Ginger...I am also in tears after reading yo ur essay. How wonderfully you have written this essay. I too feel that it should be posted for EVERYONE to read!!! To add to this dilema, you as a teacher are rated on how well your little lovies perform!!! Give them a hug, a treat, and a little extra playground time. My last principal said that we don't have time for classroom play...we must get everyone ready for the state tests!!! God bless you for being such a caring and loving teacher. Hugs

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  8. What a wonderful teacher you must be! I wish my daughter had such a teacher to care so much about her as an individual and not a test score. Thank you for your words. May God bless you and your family. I pray we can all remember what you have said. Hugs, Robin

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  9. wow what a great essay..Both of my parents were teacher and felt the same way about kids and the sat testing. Thank you for being that kind of teacher, you must be a wonderful teacher.
    Thank you,
    Leah

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  10. Thanks for sharing your talent with us.
    Jocelan

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  11. God bless you Ginger. So thankful to be moved by your words. So thankful to know there are teachers who truly care about their students. So thankful to know that lives are blessed because you are you. Thanks for sharing with all of us.

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  12. Thank you so much for creating this word art. It is wonderful, and already I am thinking of so many wonderful ways to use it. Thanks again!

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  13. Thank you for sharing your beautiful words, here, here.. totally agree same is happening here in Australia.

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  14. I believe I wrote to you last week that I am a former teacher. Your blog today explains why I haven't been in the classroom for the past four years. My administrator simply could not get the message you have so beautifully spelled out today. It was test scores and data and how to create better answers... well, I can tell you know the routine. I am going to send a lot of people to visit your blog, encourage them to read your words of concern, and pray that someone finally gets the message you, I, and thousands of other educators have known for so long. The Word Art today hit me in the heart as well, as I lost a lot of confidence in myself because my administrator told me(after 15 years in teaching) I wasn't good enough. Thank you so much!

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  15. AS I retired Kindergarten teacher this touched me deeply. I always felt kindergarten was a year of learning how to learn and how to function in a large group. Before the standardized tests we had such fun developing skills around themes. After the state departments of education embraced standardized testing everyone in the city had to be on the same page of a book on the same day. We taught to the middle child, rather than each individual child's needs. I was offered a position as computer specialist and grabbed it. Stayed there until I retired. At least there I could still tell the children that they were in charge of what they would become in life and that I loved and respected every one of them for who they are and would become. Teachers hold the future in their hands and we have a responsibility hold it gently in our hands and hearts. We do make a difference and hopefully it will be a positive one that will ripple across the world.

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  16. This is a fantastic word art, as so many of yours are. I love your post today, too. I hope that my children have teachers who understand what you have expressed so eloquently today.

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  17. Thank you so much for the wordart, I plan on using it in a scrap for my grandson, who has a terrible time at school because of these test.So please know that it's not only teachers who are frustrated with the states over these, it's also students and parents!

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  18. I was tearing up too. Your words are beautiful and moving. I remember a time when Kindergarten was fun. Now, if you don't enter Kindergarten on a 1st grade level you're behind. God Bless you and your students =)

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  19. Thank you for the interesting sentiment!

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