The MEGnitude of Change

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 01 2013


On Monday, we tested.

I has expected this day to be full of emotion — victory and disappointment and uncertainty and hope. I had expected this day to be a moment of truth, for me and for my students. It was a victory lap, an unexpected success, a wake-up call, and a hopeful sign of progress.

But on Monday, the test become something I hadn’t expected — an endurance race.

About forty-five minutes into testing, after my butterflies had settled and I felt confident that my students were steadily progressing, I heard a groan from across the room. I stood up, glanced at a computer, and saw the source of frustration: a grey box flashing the words “Please Wait.” As I turned toward the computer in question, I heard another groan, and another — a chorus of frustrated sighs. In less than a minute, every screen in the lab was flashing the same signal, freezing on the spot.

In a moment, that atmosphere of steady progress had shattered.

It wasn’t just us. Across the school, across the district, and across the state, computers were freezing. Every test was experiencing the same issues — and every student was handed the same psychological challenge: can you stay focused, despite technological difficulties?

Throughout the day, the tests would all freeze & refreeze for unknown periods of time. We were helpless — we simply had to wait it out. After four hours of this stopping and starting, one of our administrators waved the white flag. The students¬†were dejected, defeated, and having trouble concentrating. If they wanted to stop the test, they could.

And here’s where it gets good: they stayed.

So many of my students endured that test. They waited patiently for questions to load, taking mental breathers before getting back into the game. They sat it out — they persevered. And they shocked themselves with their results.

I am proud of my kids. Yes, some of them aced the test. Yes, some of them failed. Yes, some of them are “on the bubble,” with scores that could go either way. Regardless of their quantitative success, they showed some incredible stamina on Monday — I am proud.

More stories to come¬†– this week has been filled with moment after moment of glory. We can’t breathe easy just yet — decisions have to be made about what to do with these test scores — but my kids can take it. They are champions. We are a team of champions.

About this Blog

My journey in mathematics and beyond

High School

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