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