In the Midst of Testing…

It’s hard this time of the year not to get overwhelmed and consumed preparing for the state assessments. Our emails and meeting agendas are flooded with updates and reports about when the test pallets will arrive at district and when we can expect the boxes at our schools. This year we had an added component; pilot tests with common core content to be administered the week before our regularly scheduled tests. Honestly, the timing was horrible. Ethically I struggled with asking teachers and students to take three additional tests. Some schools took the test paper and pencil, while some took it electronically. Each version presented different challenges and obstacles.

In the midst of this testing frenzy, I scheduled appointments with teachers to review their portfolios. In hindsight, this may not have been the best week, but it created a space for teachers to step away from test prep and covering their walls to talk about how they reflect on teaching, maintain accurate records, participate in a professional community, grow and develop professionally, and show professionalism. I invited teachers to review the rubric and bring evidence of their accomplishments.

As I began to meet with teachers, it became clear this was the perfect time to stop and listen, to reflect on our year. I am so proud of our teachers, their dedication, and desire to be the best for our students. Meeting after meeting rejuvenated me and made me recognize why we get up and come to work each day. I realized the commitment our teachers have to our school, our parents and our students. Teachers were mindful and deliberate with documentation. They shared how they set goals this year to increase and positively impact parent communication and nurture those relationships. They articulated how they analyzed data using it to better inform their instruction and tailor activities to students’ needs. They communicated how their students used data and classroom work to set personal goals, how they monitored their growth and communicated with their parents. They shared their staff meeting notes and lesson plan reflections, how they were using wait time in their classroom to create space for students to think and process and how they were mindful in asking higher-level questions to push students’ thinking.

As the week winded down and we continued to gear up for state assessments, I was humbled by the dedication and commitment of our teachers and staff. This week was a good reminder to slow down and remember why we get up each day and come to school.

As you reflect on this year, what do you want to stay mindful of?


Jen Robinson

Jen Robinson

Maricopa, Arizona

Hello, my name is Jen Robinson. I have been in education for over 20 years. I began teaching in Buffalo, NY in 1992, as a pre-school special education teacher. My experience ranges from primary grades through high school. My husband and I moved to Arizona in 2001, where we were fortunate enough to teach at the same school. In 2004, I achieved National Board Certification and currently support candidates. In 2011 I completed my Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. My dissertation research focused on supporting National Board candidates through their certification process. During the 2012-2013 school year, I completed my National Board renewal process. It was humbling and very powerful to step back into a classroom. I am currently an elementary principal. I am excited and hopeful for the new school year. I also serve on the Arizona Teacher Solutions Team where we are solutions focused in an effort to transform and elevate the teaching profession.

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