Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Purpose of Learning

Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for creating this space to share our stories.  Read other slices or write your own and share here. 

It is that time of year.  That time when I start to panic and wonder if I have done enough and if it is good enough.

I look at the calendar and realize I still have four weeks.  

Four weeks of instruction.

Four weeks of reading and writing.

Four weeks of learning.

Four weeks until the first round of state testing.

It is also that time of year when teachers fall into that dark hole.  That dark abyss.

The test prep trap.

And yes, I almost fell in.  I almost sent an email with an attachment to my teaching partner and asked, "Do you think we need to do this?"

But I stopped.  I stopped and took a breath and told myself, "Leigh Anne, your students have been reading and writing, analyzing and interpreting, and learning the entire year.  They have become critical readers who can interpret texts and write about them.  They will be ready."

Then I hit the delete button.  Good teaching is good teaching.  And if I have taught my students to become critical readers and writers and to enjoy learning, then I know in my heart they will be fine.

I know that right now many teachers are creating test prep packets to be distributed to their students in these last four weeks.  They are copying page after page of question after question in multiple choice format to give to their students.  I know our students have to understand the test genre and the format in which they will be asked to demonstrate their learning, but I refuse to spend these last four weeks creating test takers.

These next four weeks, I will continue to teach my students to be critical readers and writers; to dig deep and ask thoughtful questions; to find evidence to support those questions and thoughts; to express those thoughts in an essay; and to remember the importance of reading of writing.

A few months ago, I had a conversation with one of my classes.  Many of them mentioned how different it was in my classroom.  When I asked what they meant, they replied that their learning was not all about the test.  It was all about them.

Isn't that what learning is supposed to be about? 


  1. Leigh Anne,
    I started to have that panicked feeling in the beginning of your post and then you pushed the delete button. You are a brave and wonderful teacher. Your students need every minute of actual instruction that is about them, not the test!

  2. So very brave Leigh Anne - to hit delete on that email, to know and not doubt. So proud of you!

  3. As teachers we know that we have done our best to prepare students throughout the year, yet we all seem to fall into the test prep trap come this time of year. I know that your students will do well because of the time you took throughout the year to ready them for this.

  4. I applaud you! Yes, it's about the kids, not the test. Stay the course and your kids will be all the better for it.

  5. I want every teacher everywhere to read your words, "Then I hit the delete button. Good teaching is good teaching. And if I have taught my students to become critical readers and writers and to enjoy learning, then I know in my heart they will be fine."

  6. Good teaching is good teaching.
    I stopped test prep years ago - I know in my heart that what moves my kids forward is our daily immersion in great books, writing practice, and time to talk and think. Bravo to you, Leigh Anne!

  7. Yes!!! Every year I have these moments too and I "push the delete button"! The end of your post is sweet and sad. I agree, that is what learning is supposed to be about. It makes me sad that more teachers aren't more like YOU! Happy reading and writing with your students. You ROCK!!!

  8. The only thing we have the power to control is ourselves -- so glad you chose to keep assessment in perspective! You students are more than a number … Thank you

  9. As a parent, I applaud you.
    As a citizen, I feel enraged that teachers face this every year.