Confusion ≠ Peace

Confusion

 

As I made the turn into the parking lot of the site for my professional development training, I was feeling encouraged and looking forward to a day away from the classroom and my fifth grade class. I was excited to network with fellow teachers both from my school and from four other schools in our district. I was hoping the day would recharge me and give me some renewed direction about how to handle the onslaught of new standardized testing requirements that continue to interrupt the teaching process and the Common Core curriculum changes. I was also looking for strategies I could use to better help the diverse group of ESE students that I have in my class this year. 

The trainers were actually teachers and did a great job of sharing what that they created to help their students make learning gains with the Common Core standards. We even got to see some videos of teachers using their strategies with the students in their classrooms. I was feeling confident since we had already implemented several of these strategies in our school as well. For the first time this school year, I actually began to feel comfortable with where I was against where the district expected me to be as a teacher in regards to the new testing requirements and standards.

After a break, that quickly changed. We were then introduced to another suggested method of how to implement these new assessments and a revised timeline for teaching the Common Core standards since the ones we received “may not be the most effective to prepare students for “the test.”  It was then suggested that we, as teachers, could create our own bi-weekly monitoring assessments in reading, math and science since the ones that were being provided to us might not match the new Common Core standards and may not be as effective to prepare students for “the test”.  I began to feel a sense of confusion about how to proceed. I then began to lose the peace I had when I arrived that morning. I thought about my students and wished I was back in the classroom with them.

This was the discussion we had for the next hour…

What now? Do we change what we already spent two months implementing? Will the district assessments best serve our students or do we now spend countless hours on our own time creating more assessments? What happens if they are not prepared for “the test”? Are we doing enough to prepare the students in relation to the Common Core standards? What more can we do to assure the students are self-assessing their progress?  

On my drive home these thoughts helped bring back my sense of peace… 

1) I can only do my best given what I know and given the challenges I’m facing.

2) I cannot depend on other resources or personnel to equip my students with the knowledge they need. I’m their first line of defense against these oppressive testing requirements which rob them of their love for learning.

3) Regardless of how discouraged I feel, I don’t want to fail my students. I want to give them all of myself even if at times I feel I have little of myself left to give them.

4) Ever changing assessments, standards, directives and mission statements will continue to come and go and my focus should not be on the ever changing but on the constant…a child’s need to feel cared for, encouraged and empowered to learn. 

5) Repeat # 1…

 

LIFE LESSON: We all want to do our best at whatever it is we do especially when it comes to raising and teaching children. I believe no parent or teacher ever sets out to purposely fail or feel discouraged in the process. Unfortunately in life there will be times when we feel confused and frustrated about where we are and where we are going. Those are the times that cause us to lose our confidence and our peace.  I’m learning in order to restore my peace, I need to look into my heart and shut off my mind. I need to trust my instincts and believe I have all I need inside of me to accomplish my purpose regardless of how I may feel at a particular moment in time. There are many negative forces and circumstances on this Earth that fight daily to steal our peace, I’m just grateful for this reminder of the truth…

“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.” 1 Corinthians 14:33