In the 1980’s, a paradigm shift occurred that placed focus on testing and pushing to get better scores. I put my foot down and decided I could not focus on test scores. They were only a snapshot of my students, but the negative impact on their self-esteem was not worth risking. I cared about the mental health of my students and I was seeing the results of the pressure on my students to perform.
There was also a push by parents. They were worrying about what they were reading in the newspaper. Headlines like, “Our Schools Are Failing Our Children,” and the reporting of scores from school districts sent parents reeling They began moving into neighborhoods where the scores were higher. There was suddenly a huge market for private schools to meet the perceived unmet needs of students that were the constant topic of journalist, because it got readers.
Well, this rebel thought the only way I could remain in the position I was if I would help my students deal with the stress they were experiencing and not worry about the outcome from the standpoint of valuing the scores. I wanted my students to see the scores as opportunities to see what they knew and what they still needed to learn. They needed strategies for dealing with their stress.
I had to really work hard at gaining the confidence of the parents, because the media was so believable. Trust did not come easily. And to be honest, I had the fear that I might not be serving my students by not following the new rules. I was told my students needed to be on a certain page in the text on certain days. Even if the children were not ready to move on, the new philosophy was that exposure would help us cover the material that would be found on the tests. It never felt right to me. I had to be dishonest at times about where the children were in the book, just so I could make sure I met their unique learning needs. I am so glad I did, because they still performed well without the stress of being pushed too fast.
I had always been about empowering children with skills that would help them transition into the work world, and that learning them at a young age was important before they formed bad habits.
I was a part of the Mentally Gifted Minor program in the 1970’s. Our focus was to analyze why our students were not performing well once they graduated high school. It became clear that the children could pass tests, and they could do school well, but they couldn’t arrive at meetings on time, manage projects, or organize their personal lives once out of school. They had been micro-managed by schools and parents, but they were not prepared once they were on their own. The skills they learned in my room were unconventional and not trusted at first, but within the first school year, the parents were thrilled at the confidence their children demonstrated that translated into amazing scores at the end of the year. They surpassed prior classes, because the students learned how to manage their stress, time, and materials without parent help.
I retired from the classroom in June of 2020 after successfully surviving Covid on-line learning. I am certain that I would have struggled like my colleagues had I not stood firm about the continuing my unconventional training that I had been perfecting over the past 47years. It was those skills that allowed my students to thrive during covid. There wasn’t anything that could throw them, since they had been practicing overcoming obstacles without their parents since September. They had the skills to transition to an in home office. They had practiced working to perfect their personal scheduling to meet their unique needs, so they easily learned to schedule themselves for the day instead of just from 3:30-8pm. They were willing to offer ideas that would help the new learning experience work for all of us. I will admit, I could not have done it alone. The suggestions made by other teachers did not work for my students. My students came up with solutions that were more successful and powerful because they were invested in their outcome. I couldn’t be more proud of them.
I now have the time to share the strategies that worked for my students over the last 47 years and supported my own daughters as they navigated their own educational journeys. Parents have been asking me to share my strategies and I finally have the time.
This coming Thursday I will begin my Seminar Series. These skills are so important that I am offering this training for FREE through Facebook Live starting Thursday, June 10th at 11am PST. Just log onto my special Facebook page where I will be hosting all my FREE Live Events. Join me Thursday by clicking on this link a few minutes early so you don’t miss a minute of this powerful offering. Looking forward to serving you with time tested and proven successful strategies. Invite your friends. They can take advantage of this one time only FREE Series.