Dear Students: On the Eve of Your First Test


Dear students,

Today, tomorrow, and Thursday, I will try to treat the day like I would any other. Only thing is, despite my attempts at geniality and mirth, you’ll probably notice the heavy and dark curtain of The Test draped on the walls of every classroom and evident in the halls of every floor.

So, it is likely that you will enter into a state of nervousness, even self-doubt, both of which will be exacerbated – depending on who you are – by the horror that stirs when you’re confronted, on your own, with a booklet of passages that masquerades as meaningful, enjoyable reading. (In your mind, you’ll try to reconcile why such a fun activity has to be hijacked and turned into such an arduous one.)

I know I’ll probably see your faces turn various shades of green. Your lips might utter statements such as, “This is too hard,” or “I’m not going to do this.” You might say you’re hungry, you’re tired, you’re bored, you’re hot – anything to get yourself out of the unenviable position of having your status as English Language Learners with disabilities be used against you in a poorly-conceived plan to make you “proficient.”

You don’t need a test to tell you if you’re “proficient.” Are you doing your work every day? Hey, you’re proficient! Are you prepared and ready to try every day? Guess what? You’re proficient! Do you give your best effort all, or even just most of the time? Well then, you’re proficient!

Some of you asked me if this test is important. That all depends on what your priorities and values are. If you, like me, value a positive, can-do attitude and realize that you’ve improved in all subjects, then you already know what’s important. It’s like I’ve told you and your parents many times before: it matters that you are improving. No test score will give us the full picture of your growth or abilities.

This morning, you’ll find some items on your desk that I hope help you through day one of The Test. Of course, there will be a pencil (duh, how else can you bubble?). I’ll leave a highlighter, as well, since I know that helps a little when reading those big bad passage article stories. And I’ll leave a Rice Krispies Treat with a little note attached, because I promised you a snack and everyone is probably going to need a pick-me-up this morning.

Listen when I talk. You’ll probably find that I won’t say, “Good luck” nearly as much as I’ll say, “Do your best!”

Yesterday, with the realization that the desks would stay in rows overnight and you would enter this morning into what was once your classroom (now a test room), you stared straight into the terrifying eyes of The Test, trembling in fear as it scowled at you from a hundred feet high. Many of you wondered if it would swallow you whole and destroy you.

Do not be distressed, dear students. You can slay that scary monster just by doing what I’ve been stressing all year: your very best.

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2 responses to “Dear Students: On the Eve of Your First Test

  1. Pingback: Remainders: Teachers offer sage words for test-taking students | GothamSchools

  2. Pingback: What Testing Does to This Teacher | From the Desk of Mr. Foteah

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