During my experience in the classroom over the past two weeks I was forced to face the undeniable truth that teachers and students often lose valuable learning opportunities because of administrative tasks. During week one I assisted in proctoring the FSA ELA practice test number two and this week parent/teacher conferences were held. In the following I will discuss what I observed and learned in terms of teacher responsibility and administrative requirements.
FSA – Practice Exam #2: The district highly recommends school participate in FSA practice exams and at the school where I am they agree. As do I! What did surprise me was the fact that some schools would object to administering practice exams. I know it takes away from learning time but learning the skills of test taking, especially lengthy high-stakes testing, should be viewed as equally important. The test took a total of seventy minutes to complete. That amount of time requires a lot of stamina and motivation to stay focused and engaged. Prior to the testing our teacher made sure the students were relaxed and even encouraged talking with their classmates to “get it out” of their system. She explicitly told the students that they would be dealing with a challenging task that she knows they can and will succeed at if they use the skills they have been practicing. She then went on to review ways to stay focused and other test-taking strategies before the students begun testing. This emphasized the value of repetition in directions and strategy skills.
During the following week, scores were calculated with the help of our ELA coaches. Our students came up thirty percent below what the district deemed to be the goal score. However, most schools across the board fell short of where the county would like to see scores so that made me feel a little better but still not without concern. With only about a month left before testing we are using the student data to guide our lesson planning. It is very useful being able to identify specific areas of improvement and then work as a team to implement the plans in place.
As I reflect back on the past two weeks in my practicum classroom I realize teachers are held accountable for so much more then educating their students. While I expect behavior management to play a large role in the classroom it was not until after this week that I realized how much “busy” work is also demanded of teachers.
Until next week,