My [redacted] Journey

A teacher's search for inner peace.

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September 16, 2013

Dear Readers,

Generally speaking, teachers are conditioned (taught? Pavlov?) to take their victories where they can get them.  In fact, we have been known to celebrate even the smallest of victories.  And why not?  To Ms. Kunzmann’s sensibilities, there is nothing greater than watching a struggling student light upon the fact that he can now grasp a concept, an abstract thought, that just yesterday had eluded him.

Me:  “A noun is also an idea or concept or a state of being.  For example, ‘justice’ or ‘nirvana’.””

Secondary Student:  “Huh?”

Six months later.

Secondary Student:  “Miss!  A noun is like ‘justice’ or ‘nirvana’!”

Nothing quite like watching the light flicker on.

And though sometimes imperceptible, it is these small victories that renew my vigor and shore up my strength.  Today dear Readers, I had a small victory.

Although I knew it was coming, I was shocked and deflated as I read my students’ quarterly reading and writing test scores on the report I had just pulled from my mailbox at school.  The average score in one of my classes was 16.4 out of 30 for Reading and 19.2 out of 35 for writing.  That is 54.7% and 54.9% respectively.  All in all, dear Readers, since 70% is proficient, only a grand total of 14 of my students passed either of the tests.  .09% of my students passed.

Let me just pause a moment to allow that to sink in, dear Readers.

So for all intents and purposes, it looks as though public education is a dismal failure and as their teacher, I have been complicit In the downfall of my students’ college and career readiness.  However, my faithful Readers know this to not be the case.  Last week, I went into detail, here on this post, as to why the tests were completely invalid.  I remain unchanged.  However, there still remained the problem of facing the administration with what I know to be a valid complaint.

“You want me to do what?”  Did I just hear my administrator correctly?  “You want me to include these grades in with my students’ final quarterly grades?  I can’t do that!  More than half, no, more than three-quarters of my students will be failing my class!  I can’t do that to them!”

“You mean you can’t do that to yourself?  Aren’t those grades a reflection of your teaching abilities?”

My what!?  I know I just heard that correctly.  “Ms. So-and-So, you know the tests are flawed, you even alluded to that fact last week.  Besides, I’m not the least bit concerned with how I look as an educator.  I’m concerned with how I would look as a human being!  It would crush my students’ spirit to include these tests with the rest of their grades.  I can’t do that.  This has nothing to do with me and everything to do with tests that are blatantly false and invalid.  I can’t include them, I won’t.”

Wow!  Did I just say what I thought I just said?  Yup, I sure did, and I’ll say it again, “There is no way I will include those test scores in with my students’ quarterly final grades.  I can’t and I won’t.”

So that is where I left it, dear Readers.  It remains to be seen if my administration will override my Pearson’s Gradebook and include the scores anyway.  But my students are aware of what is going on.  I had a little Come to Jesus meeting with my classes and explained to them what I was asked to do and what I had refused to do.  It was high time somebody stood up to them.

My students know their true grades, and even better, they know their true worth.  And that puts a smile on my face and a spring in my step.  In fact, dear Readers, it could quite possibly be said that I am in the state of nirvana.  Peace, ~v.


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