Today I sat in on a kindergarten literacy planning meeting where everyone was going over their spring testing data. As we sat around the table and people crunched numbers "OH My GOD!" could be heard time and time again as they squealed with delight at the progress their kids made over the year.
"WOW. He had 14 points in the fall and now he has a 180!" and statements like it were heard throughout the hour long meeting.
It was exciting to hear them cheer for their kids. I'm proud of the kids and proud of them. But at the same time, part of me felt a pang of angst. I don't teach kids who make that kind of progress.
I walk out of my room with my hands over my head in victory when one of my students uses the bathroom unprompted, wipes his nose himself, or identifies his name in print. I'm excited when a kid who came in knowing 5 letters leaves knowing 10.
I'm proud of my kids and I'm proud of the work I've done with them this year. I see progress- real, meaningful progress on a daily basis. But it's not the same progress they see in the general education classes, and it never will be. (If it was then the child should, by definition of the progress, not be in my room anymore).
It can be disheartening day in and day out to try to hang on to the small moments of progress happening in our room. What seems like big steps in the moment begins to look like teeny, tiny tip-toes an hour later. And what seemed like sure, absolute progress? Suddenly the child regresses and no matter what I do I can't seem to get the knowledge back inside their brains. I have data and evidence that two months ago they could do this independently. But now? They look at me like they've never seen it before.
I think a lot about the parents at these times because although I love these kids, I'm not their parent. I signed up for this job. I said, "yes, please give me these children because I love them. I am prepared to sit in meetings and hear about other children's progress." The parents of my kids didn't get to say that. They didn't get to make that choice. I imagine when report cards come out, when state test scores and college admittance letters, and end of year awards ceremonies take place the parents of our kids feel a lot like I did at that meeting this afternoon. Happy, and yet... disconnected, sad, and overwhelmed with the feeling of being powerless. We do so much, and still can't catch up.
I'm so excited for those kinders and their test scores. Everyone worked so, so hard to make it through.