I have been reading, with great interest, the postings of a California teacher, Alan Lawrence Sitomer. His committed work and passionate voice first came to my attention last week with a blog post titled, “Raise your test scores, that’s all they want.”
I highly recommend that every teacher start tuning in to Mr. Sitomer’s blog. They will find mirrored there the many questions, frustrations, joys, challenges, and tests that every thinking, heart-centered teacher has.
In stepping up to the inevitability of standardized tests and the unfortunate (many would say unfair) importance placed on them in our society, Mr. Sitomer, states, “and so, like every other teacher in my school, I have to play they way they want me to play or else they will remove me from my position and bring in other teachers to do as they wish.” Accepting that sad-but-too-true reality, he goes on to state, with firy determination that he is going to “crack” the test. “Standardized tests by their very nature are ‘crackable’ and if you put me in front of the guillotine, well… I have a job I’d like to keep.”
One of the vital, most affirming aspects of Mr. Sitomer’s commitment is that he is stepping up to the plate and tackling a real challenge of his job. Just like the kids don’t like to take those tests, teachers don’t like spending valuable time and energy (theirs and their students) in hours and hours of test prep. Yet they are part of our reality and we have to deal with them.
“Deal with them” can mean a few things– familiarizing students with test content, test questions and strategies for answering. All important, certainly in the test prep process. The part that is missing– and that I, just as passionately ask that every teacher, principal, and school superintendent — is that there are foundational skills for approaching tests. And these skills are not about test content, but about the person taking (or teaching about) the test. They are the skills for being calm, confident and focused. The same skills that we need when we face life’s tests. I don’t know about you– but I’m facing tests on a daily basis, and I’ve had my Ph.D for 30 years!
Let’s face it– as Mr. Sitomer is so bravely doing– life is filled with many things we don’t like to do but we have to do. We don’t choose many of the tests we have in life, but we can choose how we approach them.
I applaud Alan Sitomer– no wonder he was the 2007 California Teacher of the Year. How fortunate his students are, as are we, his fellow teachers.
Stay tuned to: http://www.alanlawrencesitomer.com/category/blog/