Today I was proctoring the NYS Math exam. As I walked around the classroom I noticed a sheet of paper behind the teachers desk. It was the inspirational poem by Michael Josephson What Will Matter. I paused to read it over. When I finished I looked around at all the students in the room hunched over their desks scribbling away at the test. Questions started to come to me. What difference does all this testing mean? What will it really mean to the future of that student over there, or this student near the front of the room? Will they remember this day? What kind of memory will it be? Is this what we have become; institutions of papers and inspectors, of rule followers and scantron fillers? Where is the excitement and creativity? Is this how we cap off our fulfillment of joy? Is this how we show our accomplishments? Sitting in silence, not communicating with anyone?
Life isn’t like that, why should our educational experience be like that? It is really sad that students are forced to take part in this ritual. Yet there is a little hope. For the first year in the district’s history there has been resistance. Twenty-seven students opted out of the test. That is the most for any one school in our district. While the administrator is not happy with the fact that her building had the most in the district, I am okay with that. It is a sign that parents want change. Teachers want change too. It is not easy for them to stand up there and subject their students to test after test.
Which brings me back to the poem. The poem reminds us life is always about choice. And the choice I have made is it is time to move on. Time to try something new. I am leaving ACSD after 14 years. I have decided to push myself into leading in a new direction. I have opened myself up. Over the last several years I have built a personal learning network of people who I have learned from and with. I want to keep moving forward. I am excited, a little nervous, and hopefully will find great joy.
Have you found what really matters to you? What is it?