Do you ever evaluate anything by just one attribute? When thinking about my dinner last night the overall experience has multiple aspects ranging from the company, atmosphere and quality of the food and service. Using the multiple measures I am able to place value on the quality of my experience.
While summer has begun for most schools in the country, here in New York it is testing season or ‘Regents Week’. If tension were a tangible object you would be able to cut glass with the tension in the building brought by both students and teachers.
Most recently, I’ve found myself wondering why this is the case. I work with a few educators whose lone goal is to have the ‘highest exam results in the state’. Please note-I live in a remote rural district that is awesome for where we live, good compared to the state and somewhere I absolutely love but these results are not expected or common place. I found myself wondering if there was such a ranking out there? And if there was, what does that tell me, you are awesome at prepping your students for a test?
After grappling with that particular conversation I found I do value the scores on the final exam that I don’t produce or have a knowledge of the questions on prior to the day of the exam. I also found myself saying that in addition to just the exam scores, there are many aspects I can use to measure my effectiveness as a teacher this year.
-Subject interest; were students engaged through the duration of the year, did they ask meaningful questions, did we move (even if just slightly) beyond the scope of material I had planned to cover. In many cases the answer here was yes. Engagement was high. My notes on questions, student suggestions (such as learning more about solar energy), and topics truly exceeded previous years.
-Retention to future subject area classes; for me it is students moving into AP Biology, Physics or Math, Science and Technology (MST). In speaking with students all but 3 will be moving onto another science class. Most importantly, they were excited to talk about next year and what the classes were like. This is an area I am working on helping a colleague improve.
-Ability to grow over time; this one is tricky. One of my goals is to help them be knowledgeable of science as it would connect to them as a citizen. Do they remain curious about the world around them, invigorated with learning and able to sustain some of the skills I’ve hoped to achieve this year? Most students leave on an upward trajectory that tells me if a science tid-bit is presented to them, they will be able to think about it.
I won’t lie, I know tomorrow “the night before the Chem Regents” I won’t sleep, nervous about what the next day will hold. I also know that I have done my very best to invest students and their parents in student learning. I focused on individual progress during the year, ran a tight and purposeful review. I have called to check in on those who may be on the fringe of passing. On Wednesday, when the results are returned from the state I know I will pour over them speculating about how changes of X, y, and z could have helped. However, to the end I will know that those results are simply one, small, isolated glimpse into my work of improving student learning this past year. I am proud of the kids for rising to the challenge of this unrequired, ‘hard’ hard class. Their achievements and mine are much more than a test score.