Taking Tests

An observation: Teachers, generally speaking, don’t like to take tests.

I am, of course, painting with a broad brush, but that’s pretty much so true, in my limited experience.  It’s our job–it’s my job–to teach and mold, then to assess.  “Assessment drives instruction,” and all that.  (I do believe that, by the way.)  We give formative assessments and summative assessments, and we can tell you our opinion about the differences between a “spot check,” a quiz, and a test.  We do formal and informal evaluations and put together qualitative and quantitative data.  We give tests.  It’s part of what we do.

But, again, generally speaking, we don’t like to take them.  Ahem.  Okay, I don’t like to take them.

The odd thing is, with most tests, I do well.  Multiple choice is preferred, because like so many other students I’m able to look at the options, eliminate a couple right off the bat, and make (more) sense of one of the remaining answers.  Essay questions aren’t too bad, either, because (according to some) my BS degree didn’t just mean Bachelor of Science.

Okay, this slice isn’t about testing, it’s about taking a test. Specifically, me taking a test.

I’ve been an elementary (PK-5) STEM coach for the last three years, and I’ll serve in that capacity again this upcoming year.  After that, though, I’m almost certain to go back into a general ed classroom.  That, by the way, is a good thing for me.  Hopefully, I’ll go back into a third-grade classroom, but I’m willing to give other grades a shot.  Anyway, I was recently given the opportunity to be part of a LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) cohort here in Alabama.  I’m all about some good professional development, and I’ve heard positive things about LETRS.

I did the registration thing, and a few days later received an email letting me know dates and times for my orientation webinar.  I signed up for a session that worked for me, and there I was last Friday, sitting in front of a computer, getting ready to learn.

My presenter was good: She delivered the information with a light-handed approach, added just the right amount of humor, and didn’t read her slides word-for-word.  There was that moment, though, when I could feel hundreds of teachers from all over the state being jolted–just a tiny bit–from their webinar haze when they heard the word “pretest.”

Say what?

Then, there it was again.  “Pretest.”  Then, she said words like “post test” and “check on learning.” I think she even tossed in, “demonstrate mastery.” Whoa.

So that’s the way you want to play it, eh?

To make it even better, the two-hour block of time we were asked to set aside for the webinar actually included the aforementioned pretest.  I was supposed to do it that day.

In retrospect, the situation was pretty funny (at the time, though, all I knew was I needed to take a test).  I mentioned my B.S. (the degree) earlier, but on Friday I was thinking about the fact that I was about to be assessed on my knowledge of teaching reading after having earned my master’s degree a few years back in, you guessed it, elementary reading.  No pressure.

And, it went okay.  I showed I had room for growth as a teacher, but I didn’t embarrass myself (sometimes the hardest tests are the ones where only you know your results).  I’m looking forward to this training, but don’t doubt that I’ll still clinch up just a little bit as I wrap up each lesson and unit with the assessments.  I can do this–I know I can.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers (https://twowritingteachers.org) for hosting the Slice of Life Story Challenge. If you’re a teacher who teaches writing (and, really, there aren’t many K-12 teachers who don’t in some capacity), you should check out the challenge and give it a shot!

9 thoughts on “Taking Tests

  1. Ah, so true! I love your line about teachers all over the state being jolted from their webinar haze, and then hearing all those other test-y words!!! You strike the nice balance between seriousness and humor.
    I recently had an on-line learning experience that really made me sympathize with students who are getting tired of paying attention, but afraid to miss something and get lost. Your piece inspires me to try to write about that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can so relate to this piece. I have been there when the realization of me getting tested shook me up a bit. I then acknowledge that my students must feel the same way at times. This slice made me smile and also think. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t taken a test in 30+ years! I don’t know how I would react now. It’s an interesting form of assessment. I don’t give tests either (I teach grades 2 and 3). I don’t find tests a very useful form of assessment for my students either. Maybe if I taught older children I’d feel differently.

    Your summer course sounds like an interesting one. I am taking a Master’s Degree course about reading right now. I went in feeling it would be an easy summer course because I’m a confident reading teacher and reader. But I have learned so much!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish I could say that I don’t give tests, but my admin (when I was in the classroom) wouldn’t be too happy with me. Oddly enough, many of my parents wouldn’t have either. I don’t believe there’s a lot of value in the “end of the chapter” test, but when I’d try to move away from them I’d have parents ask “why not?” As a teacher of third-graders, I (like you) think there are other ways to ensure my students have learned the material.

      There is so much to learn about teaching reading! I thought I had a solid handle on things, but I am also learning so much—and I’m just getting started!

      Like

  4. Your writing has so much voice! I really enjoyed reading it. I just signed up to pursue National Board Certification and a test is part of that too. Part of me is like- why put yourself through this when you are tenured and have job security? The other part of me thinks it is important to keep stretching myself, challenging myself, and yes- testing myself. Thanks for an enjoyable post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kathleen, for your comments. I was pursuing National Board Certification, but had to put it on hold to take the position I’m in now. I’ll probably start the process again when I get back into the classroom. You’re right on target when you say it’s important to keep stretching oneself as a teacher!

      Like

  5. Tim, You’ve got me hooked. I am so enjoying reading your posts. I often catch myself smiling or laughing as I read. I will also admit… I don’t like taking tests either. And I also have a BS.

    Like

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