Sunday, January 19, 2014

Not Leaving This Child Behind

You, my little second grade friend, are more than any results of any standardized test.  You may have trouble with controlling your impulses or sitting still and you may have a terrible time on a computerized test.  You may have been the one second grader who took two hours when everyone else took 45 minutes.  Still, you are so much more than that test, which brought you nearly to tears and a meltdown.  It's incredibly unjust that you are subjected to this utter nonsense.  This test demonstrates more about the failure of an educational system demolished by foolhardy bureaucrats looking for soundbites to sell solutions to problems they know absolutely nothing about than it demonstrates your ability to read and comprehend.

Do you want to know what you are?

You are wonder.  You are delight over rolling a new multisyllabic word around your mouth and grinning ear to ear when you remember what it means.  You are the fun of wandering through the stacks of the library just to see what's there and what catches your eye.  You are the curiosity of wanting to know the whys and wherefores of the world.

You are enthusiasm.  You are the light of shared love of Go, Dog, Go! and the feigned indignation that such a wonderful book should not be included in our library.  You are the happy exploration of other books you've never heard of because you are confident that since we both love the same book I must have good taste and give worthy recommendations.

You are humor.  You are silly jokes and wry smiles and easy laughter.  You are a mischievous imp who will try to make adults laugh to avoid repercussions from minor offenses and to deflect from what you see as your own deficiencies.

You are anticipation.  You are the hope that a popular book has finally been returned to the library so you can have a turn.  You are excitement over Christmas, and summer vacation, and just to make my heart melt.....over library day.

You are perseverance.  You are taking so much more time than your classmates.  You are squinting at a screen agonizing over one brief passage.  You are blinking back tears at having little idea what the squiggles are saying. You are continuing to try even after everyone else has gone to listen to the stories I wanted you to hear because they affirm a person's worth even if that person struggles.  You are a hand waving in the air to signal you have finally finished.  You are a look of relief tinged with disappointment, frustration and fear.

I want you to know you are so much more than one stupid score mandated by state and federal regulations and enforced by administrators who can barely find their asses with their own hands.  I want to see the lights of wonder, enthusiasm, humor, and anticipation shine in your eyes again.  I want to give you whatever meager offerings I have to help you find the perseverance you will need for years to come.  I want to remind you that things containing written words can still give you joy rather than torment.

I give you a high five.  I tell you I am proud of how hard you worked and for how long you did so.  I whisper in your ear asking if you can keep a secret.  When you nod I tell you YOU will be the only student who is allowed to chose books from the cart of brand new books I have been working hard to process for inclusion in the library, the cart everyone has been drooling over all week.

I watch your smile broaden and your eyes light up.  You consider your choice carefully. You go for the gusto and ask if you may have two of the most coveted books on the cart.  I nod and see you beam as you take your place in line to check out,

You are now the envy of your classmates rather than one to be left behind.  You struggle to hold the books because they are large and heavy.  I stoop to help you arrange them.  You clutch them to your chest and grin as you tell me...

You are a bibliophile.

14 comments:

Stephen Hayes said...

A wonderful post and I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading it. This might have been me, except the subject bringing me to tears was math.

Secret Agent Woman said...

We lost so much when we became so bloody test-focused.

Bijoux said...

I'd like to leave the bureaucrats behind, but they keep following me.

Anvilcloud said...

Well thanks for the tears. Hmmph. :)

Whether you are the classroom teacher or the librarian or both, I commend you. The parents maybe need to know about this post -- someday anyway.

joeh said...

I don't believe our education system is as good as it once was. Changes need to be made. Perhaps smart people with multiple degrees who are in high places in government can fix the system. Or else, maybe we could go back to the days when dedicated teachers held children to high standards and taught to the child's ability, and not to a standardized test.

Jackie said...

OK. I had on mascara before I started reading this. It's running down my face, now.
Wonderfully and beautifully said.
I love my students....each and every one of them. No test defines a student. Not one.
I am a retired educator. The educational system is being and has been changed from the "higher places in government" (state and federal)....people who have probably NOT been in a classroom for decades. Those changes have gradually but steadily taken over. Those who sit in their ivory towers are making the rules/decisions for those of us who stand with and teach your children.
I'm so sorry that students have to be subjected to these kinds of testing measurements.

haphazardlife said...

There suddenly seems to be dust in my eyes... Thank god for people like you.

Craig said...

You are a very gracious and compassionate Library Lady. . .

~Tim said...

This is sweet.

GAB said...

because of the no child left behind my second oldest grandchild is suffering. He is suppose to be a 9th grader but he can barely read 5th grade level! and because of this he is skipping more and more school every day. He hates school because he is so far behind! Stupid tests and stupid people for doing no child left behind.

Jocelyn said...

Oh, lawsy, but you can never quit.

Such kids need at least one rational adult who is able to appreciate their magic.

Suldog said...

YOU are what makes school worthwhile for that child. YOU may be the best thing between that child and dropping out. YOU, I thank.

Hilary said...

You are an angel, Michelle.

You are the educator that every child should have.

You are the one they will remember.

You are the one that I thanked goodness for when my kids needed someone like you and found her.

You are under-appreciated in that school. Though thankfully, not by those beautiful young minds you touch so lovingly.

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

Thank you for caring.