I'll never have a fat bank account or drive a sporty car. No one will remember me as 'that successful businesswoman' or 'writer who found success.' But that's ok because I get to hear the sweet sound of success on a weekly basis. #success #teacher #student #test #career #testtakingskills

I’ll never have a fat bank account or drive a sporty car. No one will remember me as ‘that successful businesswoman’ or ‘writer who found success.’ But that’s ok because I get to hear the sweet sound of success on a weekly basis.

I'll never have a fat bank account or drive a sporty car. No one will remember me as 'that successful businesswoman' or 'writer who found success.' But that's ok because I get to hear the sweet sound of success on a weekly basis. #success #teacher #student #test #career #testtakingskills

Practicing for Success

“Open your booklet and fold the back cover at the perforations,” I instructed my students this morning.

“What’s a perforation?” one asked under his breath.

“That little line of holes you can see if you hold the paper up to the light,” I said, and went back to my monologue. “Today you’ll take a practice test for the Iowa test.”

“Practice test?” Everyone groaned.

“Why do we have to practice?” someone whined.

“To make sure you experience success.” I held up the test and shook it a little. “Why do you even take these things?”

“To see if we’re smart,” a girl from the back of the room answered.

“Teachers just want to torture us!” a young man joked.

“To see how much we remember,” another girl offered.

“You’re all right. Sort of. While you fill out your name on the practice answer sheet, I’ll try to explain why you take the Iowa test.”  

“Unlike the IQ test, the Iowa test doesn’t really tell us much about your intelligence. It DOES tell us how well you know how to take tests and follow directions.” I looked around and everyone seemed to have their name filled in.

“Contrary to popular belief, teachers don’t enjoy giving these tests and we don’t like torturing our students. We DO however like knowing if what we do as teachers actually works.”

“You mean, we’re like your science projects?”

“Something like that. When you experience success on the test, it shows us that we are doing something right. If you don’t experience success, then we need to change something.”

I saw nods of comprehension.

“Some of the test checks to see what skills you remember from previous years, but don’t feel badly if you don’t remember. Just do your best. Now, turn to page two.”

Winging It

Somehow, I’d gotten the practice tests without the instruction booklet, so I winged it. “I’ll read the instructions out loud, and then give you some time to do the practice questions. After that, we’ll discuss your answers.”

I'll never have a fat bank account or drive a sporty car. No one will remember me as 'that successful businesswoman' or 'writer who found success.' But that's ok because I get to hear the sweet sound of success on a weekly basis. #success #teacher #student #test #career #testtakingskills

I started reading the directions for the reading test out loud, “Read the selection and then answer the questions.” I stopped and shook my head.

“I can’t believe they’ve giving you these instructions!” I looked around the classroom. “Can anyone tell me what’s wrong with the instructions?”

Kids looked back at me blankly, and then one of the boys mumbled under his breath, “We’re supposed to read the questions first.”

“Exactly!” I almost shouted in glee. “You need to read the questions BEFORE you read the passage! Who can tell me why?”

“So you know what to look for when you read?” one of the girls said in hesitant whisper.

“Yes! You’ll waste all kinds of time if you read the passage first and then have to read it again each time you look at a new question. Read the questions first, and you’ll be on your way to success as a test-taker!”

For three years I’d preached this strategy in all of my classes. I’d finally found success.

Success

It looks different for each person. For some people, a big bank account or fancy car spell success. For me, success looks like kids learning how to think logically (despite what the directions say).

Success feels like students doing better on the test each year because we’ve used them as our ‘science experiments’ to discover how they learn best.

I’ll never have a fat bank account, live in a fancy house, or drive cool cars. But I will know moments of sweet success along the way.

I'll never be wealthy, but I'll always know success. #teacher #success Click To Tweet

6 Comments

  1. I stepped upon a rusty nail,
    and that was entree to success
    because I’m here to tell the tale
    and I did not get tetanus.
    It’s a bummer, that’s for sure
    to fall through that narrow crack
    of being too poor to insure,
    too rich for the gov to have my back.
    So I walk the narrow path
    of being my own medical agent
    who (and this raises bitter laugh)
    has a real fool for a patient.
    They’ll spring for AIDS and ADHD,
    but not a bloody cent for me.
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Your Dying Spouse 677 – Broken To Joy {FMF}My Profile

  2. I think, in my years homeschooling my lad, I have done too good of a job at teaching my boy to think logically about things. It’s a good success (though sometimes it drives me batty). 🙂 Still good. Visiting from #47 at FMF.

  3. Lovely story Anita!

    Teachers have such huge impacts on our lives… it’s so cool to read about your experience motivating and teaching your students. I agree that success is a lot more than fancy material things, or lots of money… it’s the real-life experiences (like your classroom example) that we will look back on with happiness in years to come! 🙂
    Laura recently posted…Makeup For A Red Dress | The Scientifically MOST Attractive Makeup LookMy Profile

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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