Today I broke the rules. I understand that by admitting this publicly, I’m opening myself to hand slap. I’m ok with that; my hands can take it.
Here’s how it all happened:
We were finishing up CAT – 4 testing in my grade 2 class. For those that are unfamiliar with the test, it’s a multiple choice test that assesses students abilities in reading, language, spelling, and mathematics. Also, the test is a norms-based assessment. It “evaluates how well students perform in comparison to other students across the district, region, or in Canada as a whole.”
One could also view it as the most brutal week in grade 2. The students in my class are transformed from collaborative kids that rely on each other for help, encouragement and support to students that look more like this:
To their credit, they were awesome. They toughed it out, and lived to tell the tale.
As we were wrapping up, I told them how proud I was of them for going through something so gruelling. All of a sudden one of the students in my class cracked. She started crying. Lucky for me our French teacher came in to teach his block for the day. I asked the girl to come outside and talk.
I took her for a walk and a drink and asked her why she was crying. She said “because I didn’t finish”.
I smiled and tried to brush it under the table. "It’s ok if you left a few questions unanswered; it’s not the end of the world.“
Then she said "it’s not ok.”
I asked her if she was worried about getting a good mark or making someone happy, and she told me “no”. She was upset because she knew how to finish, but needed more time.
*NB- CAT4 is a timed test. There are some accommodations (extensions in time) that can be made for students with special needs, but she does not qualify for these accommodations.
All of a sudden I was faced with a mini dilemma. I hate the test, but I have always thought of it as part of my job. So… I administer it faithfully. At the same time, I’ve worked really hard this year on making my 2s strong, gritty learners.
The dilemma lasted a split second.
I grabbed her test, a scrap piece of paper for calculations, and an HB pencil. We walked to the library and she finished the 5 subtraction questions that she needed to complete. I watched her count on her fingers and scratch her head as she calculated.
… and I was happy.
During my split second dilemma I thought about this girl’s future learning. I thought about movies like Rocky and Cool Runnings where characters want to work hard and go the distance. Right there in front of me was a human being that wanted to work hard to do her best. Not win or get an A, just do her best. That’s the kind of situation that merits the breaking of rules. Always.