Hidden Benefits #sol18
Today is the first day of benchmark assessment for the school. While I talk a great game, the night before I’m usually worried about logistics: class lists, class preparedness, timing. Some of these things are not under my control. Worry as my grandmother would say only borrows trouble. We have a team and I’m the coordinator. The team is awesome and smart and capable. Most of the time, everything is relatively smooth. We start with the upper grades. I tell the team that I give us an easy day to start. We smile.
Today, I’m thinking about the big picture and then… the first student sits down next to me. I pause and notice the student who is my partner for the next two minutes. Usually a teacher will send one of a few profiles my way: a student she is concerned about, a student who is easily distracted, or a student that could be both of these things and is familiar with me. The first fourth grader turns to me and says I had a sad weekend. At that minute the timer freezes, the test can wait, the schedule will work, all bets are off. Do you want to tell me about it? He did tell me about it and then, I listened to him read. So many things about that moment. I’m touched that he could confide in me. I’m glad I asked. I am happy I remembered, people first.
The next student wasn’t sad but he needed a minute too. He wanted to celebrate his wrestling victory with me and explain how and why. I believe in the assessments but I also believe in these minutes. And other minutes as well.
When the team sits down to assess a class, we become partners, partners with each other, with the students, and with their teacher. It builds our building community. We take notes, we share responsibility, and we care about what happens in those minutes. Those minutes are just indicators. They aren’t the whole picture. Sometimes those minutes confirm what a teacher is thinking. Sometimes those minutes give us pause. Sometimes those minutes are a celebration. Occasionally, those minutes are a question mark.
In the life of a school community, there are a lot of precious minutes: Our smiles in the hall, the greeting of the humans we pass, the assistance we give each other. The only precursor is that we have to notice… Notice when someone needs a extra moment, notice who we are when we are present, notice who they are when we are present too.
So today, I remembered how much more those assessment minutes can be.