A Fraction of You

Dear Students,

For the past few weeks, we have asked you to sit in silence, sometimes for hours at a time. Your little bodies wiggle and squirm as you are asked to read and comprehend text without an opportunity to activate your background knowledge. Your fingers stretch to type letters, words, sentences, paragraphs with eloquence and confidence, though you are still just learning how to type. Your curious minds have quieted. Because we need quiet. Voices off. No talking. Shhhhh. Quiet. Quiet. Quiet. Because we are taking

THE test.

We tell you, “It is very important!”
But what we mean to say is “It doesn’t mean everything.”
Because we really believe that “The important things happen when we’re learning.”

They will measure you on your measurement skills.
They will ask you about elapsed time as you peek at the clock wondering how much time until recess.
They will challenge you to explain a character’s emotions, even though I saw tears roll down your cheeks when you finished your book this morning.
They will evaluate whether or not you know what fraction of the candy bar Jennifer ate.

Fractions.

The test will only measure a fraction of who you are and what you know. The test reflects your thinking on one day, in one shot. The test doesn’t know, and will never know, you.

But I know you.

I know you are kind.
(You invite friends to play with you at recess.)

I know you are thoughtful.
(You hold the door open for each of your classmates.)

I know you are brave.
(You shared the rough draft of your writing for all to hear yesterday.)

I know you are patient.
(You wait your turn for my help with your questions.)

I know you are creative.
(You built a two-story castle out of cardboard and duct tape.)

I know you are empathetic.
(You hug your classmate and tell him you know how it feels when a pet dies.)

I know you are growing.
(You call yourself a reader…for the first time ever.)

I know you
write fan fiction
break boards in tae kwon do
speak three languages
play piano with your stepmom
compete as an Irish dancer
co-design your fresh cuts with your barber
collect supplies for animals at the Humane Society.

I also know that
you didn’t get breakfast this morning
mom worked the late shift again
your baby brother kept you up all night with his cries
anxiety makes your heart beat fast
you haven’t seen dad since he’s been incarcerated
anger often disrupts all of your calm
you worry about doing well on

THE test.

You, my friends, are complex and curious creatures. There are no rulers or scales or numbers or tests that exist that can calculate YOU. You are fierce and free-spirited. Inquisitive and introverted. Witty and wonderful.

How lucky I am that I know you, to know more parts of your whole than any multiple choice assessment ever will.

When we finish the test, and get back to the joy of learning, just remember, that this test is a fraction of your time to measure a fraction of you.

I cannot wait to get back to learning, exploring, and creating with you.
All ten-tenths of you.
Because these cardboard castles aren’t going to build themselves.

Love,
Mrs. Werner
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8 thoughts on “A Fraction of You

  1. Simply gorgeous, Aliza!
    “THE test.

    We tell you, “It is very important!”
    But what we mean to say is “It doesn’t mean everything.”
    Because we really believe that “The important things happen when we’re learning.”

    THE test . . . disrupts learning. Halts learning. Makes one question learning. . . So VERY wrong!

    Like

  2. This made me tear up! This expresses so beautifully what all teachers who are passionate about their profession feel in their hearts. Tests and all the preparation that goes with teaching the test are a waste of valuable learning time. Every child needs a letter like this from a teacher who cares. Your students are very lucky to have you as a teacher!

    Like

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