The Blame Game

He did it. It’s all her fault. They made me. She started it. A word of advice in the blame game: Stop it. If you are an adult or adult-type person, you get to assume responsibility for your choices. It’s part of why you receive your adulthood card when you’re 18. Oh, you didn’t receive yours? It’s not my fault; I told someone else to put it in the mail and they must have forgotten.

The blame game is a pernicious, pesky little problem that causes us to mess up on a regular basis. I understand the practice of CYA, but if you’re busy covering you’re a**, you don’t need to toss the pile of negativity onto someone else’s situation. We all have enough to worry about without adding to it.

Today was a tricky day in the land of education. The students were taking a standards-based assessment called THTHTHTHTHTHTH – that’s not the name of the test; that’s me sticking my tongue out at the test in disregard. As a teacherly person, I spent massive amounts of energy assisting the students to be successful on this standardized glop of educational spatooey. That’s not a word, but it should be. My students, who inspire me daily to be the best I possibly can because they deserve so much more than that, were warriors in the battle against whattheheckisthis. I wish I could have told them that their lives will still have meaning regardless of the outcome of today’s assessments, but they were too busy giving 110% — heck, not even 110%, 150% effort. If energy and effort could fuel a car, they’d have powered cross country trips.

At the end of the day, I needed a cool down walk, a debriefing of my noggin so I could return to a state of calm. Instead, I had a meeting. I wasn’t agitated by my students, I was proud of them. I was agitated because I had to give the test in the first place. I support the notion that we as teachers should be held accountable for our student progress. Fine. Super. Spiffy. Then let me give the types of assessment that are meaningful. I like the quote attributed to Einstein: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking it’s stupid.” In thinking about the discussion of intelligences, testing, learning styles and what-not, it’s worth a conversation or 50 to talk about what we’re really doing when we test the living daylights out of our kids. Are we showing what they know or how well they can handle stress? Looking at the faces of my 90ish students, I don’t think I successfully assessed much of anything today except for maybe how well I can freak them out.

I assume responsibility for my role in creating problem-solvers, thinkers, explorers, and dreamers. I am trying very hard not to blame my State Board of Education for over-assessing my students. I am trying, and I am failing. My students are among the coolest people on the planet and they deserve way better than this.


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