Next week, we'll begin our test-a-palooza, and every person in our school is Sick To Death of the whole thing already.
It's not just that the tests themselves are a ridiculous waste of time, or inaccurate assessments of students' and teachers' achievements, or any of the other things I've ranted about a million billion times before.
It's more that we all have Testing Fatigue before the tests themselves are even delivered to the building.
Ask any teacher in a test-associated classroom what s/he's been doing since February, and the answer will always be, "Test review."
Ask any student what they've read in English class this semester, and s/he'll say, "Test review."
Ask any administrator what they've been stressing for the last three months, and s/he'll say, "Test review."
Practice test, review. Practice test, review. That's it. That's what my English lesson plans have said (when I've bothered to turn them in, that is) since the beginning of the year.
I've reached a crossroads; I'm torn between a) not even caring how the kids do on their tests anymore, and b) having nightmares that my statistics come back with a column of giant negative signs (-) going down the page.
I waver between a very positive, zen-like attitude ("You're all going to do SO WELL on this test, I have SUCH confidence in your abilities!") to freaking out and being near tears ("You missed 36 out of 48?????? Oh sweet Jesus, take me now!")
Fortunately, I have a planning period immediately following my English class, and I can melt down without an audience. But my big freak-out today happened because I had a flash of something I probably knew--but chose to ignore--all along.
See, I TRY with these reviews. I know they're awful and they're tedious and they're boring. So I do games, and I give activities, and I tell stories and gesture wildly and jump around and dance and holler and cheerlead and fist bump and get all dramatic and ... well, what I do is, I make a giant ass of myself.
And yet, my students STILL don't follow directions. They STILL don't read the questions carefully. They STILL don't try the oft-repeated testing tips I've given. They STILL don't check to make sure the number on their answer sheet matches the number in the test booklet. They STILL don't pay attention to the clock.
Then, when I'm trying to go over the answers and tell them why they chose the wrong answer, and why another answer is correct, and how they can avoid that pitfall later, WHAT DO THEY DO?
They talk. They gossip. They sleep. They beat on their desks. They draw on their answer sheets. They look out the window. They do everything but the one thing I want them to do: LISTEN.
So here I am, putting in all this effort to try to help THEM, and I'm the only one who's actively participating in the review!
And this, THIS, is why the whole idea of using standardized tests to evaluate MY effectiveness is an EPIC FAIL.
Because I AM DOING THE WORK!
I am running my tail off teaching this stuff! I am doing everything in my power to help these kids pass this stupid, stupid test, but I AM GOING TO GET A FAILING GRADE because THEY DON'T GIVE A CRAP.
I just ... I give up. I give up.