It's also incredibly time consuming. Hence, I am writing a lot of stuff on Kidblog and with my students, but I've not had the most time to write any Wisdom from the Middle.
Now that I've provided that very lengthy introduction, I have a confession to make. A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the AMLE conference in Nashville, and while I was there I had the opportunity to reflect on my school year so far. In those moments of reflection away from the children, I realized that this year I have caved to the pressure of curriculum and testing in a big way. As I sat listening to keynote speakers and presenters discuss the importance of relationships and rapport at the middle level, I couldn't help but think of all the times I've been too busy to talk with a student in between classes this year or the times that I really needed two days for a lesson, but the pacing guide only allowed me the one day. Sitting in an incredibly cold conference room at AMLE, I resolved to take a metaphorical chill pill when it comes to PARCC and CCSS and every other acronym that is attempting to steal my love for teaching and my positive attitude and my desire to genuinely make the world a better place for my students.
As sad as it is to admit, it's pretty easy to let the everyday requirements of teaching get you down. You know what I realized? Test scores don't bring back my joy. Smiling kids who are excited to come in my classroom and write in their blogs and share their stories with me are what bring me joy every. single. day. Kids who check Harry Potter out of my classroom library and exhibit the same excitement that I did as a kid bring me joy every day. And you know what? If kids feel safe and valued in the classroom, if they feel like it's a safe place to make mistakes and grow and become better readers and writers, they're going to do just fine on whatever test the state decides they have to take. The most important thing I can do as a teacher is show kids that they matter, and in middle school, a time when you start to question who you are or doubt your worth, showing kids that their ideas and their work matter is probably the most important lesson I can impart.