I've mentioned in earlier posts that I'm at the "worst" school in my district with the "worst" kids. We have the worst attendance rate and the worst TAKS scores (Texas standardized test). With the recent budget cuts, teachers in my district (MOSTLY from my school) are getting whacked left and right. The superintendent has been watching my school like a vulture circling a carcass, just waiting to make his move.
I teach 4th grade math to the entire grade level. My TAKS scores have never been awful, but still aren't up there with the other schools. In fact, they are among the highest at my school. I haven't been too worried about losing my job, but of course it has been a possibility.
Today was just an awesome day. It was Math TAKS day. I am always excited for TAKS day because it takes a HUGE weight off of my shoulders. It marks the day where I get to teach without pressure (the last like, 19 days of school!). It marks the day where I stop worrying about the test and passing and just get to focus on teaching. JUST teaching.
Anyway, today was the day. All through the school year I have targeted about 13-15 "bubble" kids that could end up passing by the test by one, or end up failing miserably, depending on their smartness that day and their mood. These kids aren't bad kids. They are just SO behind and SO low (all reading at a either a 1st or 2nd grade reading level). 2 of them are ESL. These kids STRUGGLE. They have always struggled and will continue to struggle because they have A LOT of catching up to do.
I placed all of these kids in my testing room. I have a great rapport with all of these kids. We have spent many countless hours in small groups and tutoring. I've been encouraging them from day one and and have NEVER given up on them, even when the picture was very bleak. They know that. I've filled their little heads with confidence and an "I Can!" attitude. We have had some great days and a few more not-so-great days. I have been nervous ALL year about whether all of these countless hours of tutoring and one-on-one help will pay off.
Today...it did. Those kids worked with everything they had. I mean EVERYTHING. I have NEVER seen them work so hard. It brings a tear to my eye because...they did it. THEY DID IT. All of this hard work and frustration paid off. Of course, I don't know their scores and I don't know exactly how they did because we are not allowed to look at the test while the students are taking it BUT I can tell you that they took their time, they used their strategies, they THOUGHT it out, and I have never been so proud!
This reminds me that I KNOW my purpose is to teach. This is what I live for. This feeling will NEVER get old! It's so cliché to say that my favorite part of teaching is that light bulb moment (you know what I mean!), but it's true!
I am so thankful for my job and praise GOD for all that He has done!
(and thank GOD this day is over!!!)