This week I spent the majority of my time testing my kinders, pulling each child into the hallway for 2-3 minutes to conduct one of the 11 tasks included in our end of year assessments. I don't think of the experience as overly stressful for the kids (for me, on the other hand, who has to read the stupid story about a cat over and over again, well, that's another story). For the kids I try to keep it upbeat, high fives the whole time, moving quickly through each task so they don't even know they are being tested.
I called one little girl into the hallway to do a task she'd done quite well on in the beginning of the year. She came out smiling, and completed the task correctly although she looked distracted and distant the entire time. I wondered what was wrong but was so into testing I went ahead and called the next kiddo.
My next testing subject sat down in his chair and immediately gave me a look of confusion mixed with fear. He began squirming in his seat, looking extremely uncomfortable. He has trouble staying focused and I thought he was just trying to avoid the task. Halfway through the test (which he wasn't doing well on) the aid came running out of the room. She yanked my testing victim out of the seat to reveal a puddle. A puddle that did not belong to the current tester, but belonged to the friend before him. My poor friend had been sitting there in someone else's pee trying desperately to concentrate on the task at hand, trying not to complain to me that he was sitting in something wet.
And the poor pee-er? Her life is topsy turvy with drama day in and day out. We never know (and neither does she) if and when her father will be deported, if and when the family will move into another neighbor's house, which parent will be responsible for the children that night, or where she will sleep. The stress in her life is far greater than a simple 8 question task. Did she not know she needed to use the bathroom? Was she scared to ask? Do these kids secretly know how important these little tasks are despite how much we try to make it seem like they are fun and exciting? Scared to ask to go to the bathroom and scared to tell me they are sitting in something wet... what have I done to these kids?
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