Every year we take a faculty photo and it reminds me of elementary school. This morning we started our day in the 6th-grade gym at school, chatting in small groups as we nodded and smiled and sized each other up. We line up according to height, so it’s easier for the photographers to put us in order for the picture. We measure ourselves against our peers as we find our position. Measuring our growth and the growth of our students is a topic of concern for many right now. I don’t want to discuss standardized testing, I think talking about it gives it too much power. I don’t worry about the test, I cannot, for I have more important things to spend my time doing.
Just like any teacher, I want my students to grow. As teachers, we want students to discover a passion for learning, to realize that learning is important and that learning should never end.
While it is important to check where we are on our learning journey and to see if we are approaching the goals we have for ourselves and that others have for us, I never want to forget that a student is more than a single number, more than a score. A label does not define student and I work so that in my realm of influence a number will not limit them. I count it a failure as a teacher if a student is discouraged by a number.
As I measure my students this year, I want to measure with more than a number. My goal is to find ways to fill out a whole picture of what my students understand, what they wonder about and what they are inspired by. The picture that is developed for each of my students should help them toward their goal, it should give them a benchmark to reflect on and view of what’s possible. My challenge this year is to put that vision into practice, to find what that looks like in my classroom.