Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It was the gum!

I am so happy to say that my students ROCKED that MAP test today! We had our testing between recess and lunch. Mrs.  RTI called me and said the lab was ready if we wanted to come a few minutes early. Of course we did! So the kiddos stuck their gum in their mouths, we talked about how we promised to take care of it, blah blah and off we went.

Because we were a bit early and our lunch doesn't start until 12:10, we actually had a bit more than an hour for testing which was awesome. Each student's report from the fall provided a "target RIT' for them to meet at the next testing. So I put those individual numbers on small sticky notes for the  kiddos and told them to put that number in their brains -- this was the number they wanted to see when the finished test screen came up. I will never again underestimate the power of positive thinking. I told those kids SO MANY TIMES over the last couple of weeks, and really pushed that on them yesterday and today before the test that they were smart and yes they could do this!

Of my 23 friends, 15 of them exceeded that target number I gave them! Some by only a point or two but who cares! The look on their little faces when they saw those numbers above the number I gave them was priceless. I wish I could've captured them for posterity because it was so awesome to see their joy and their pride. Of my special ed kiddos, all of them went up and 4 of them also exceeded their targets. This is really awesome and I am definitely thinking we need to be partying to celebrate this awesome accomplishment.

In addition, I had a young man who transferred from the school that closed last year. I LOVE this child, he is really sweet, loves to learn, is polite and definitely the son I never had. He's just awesome. When he came to us in September, he could barely write in English. So he got zeros on his assessments and things because they have to be in English (even if I could read Spanish, based on how the scoring works, they'd've still been zeros). Well, this friend of mine went from a 0 on his writing assessment to a 3 (out of 4) and on his MAP test, he improved 40 RIT points! That's unheard of. My jaw nearly dropped on the floor. The smile on that child's face when I showed him his former score to his new one was the epitome of the reason why I can't leave my district. For all it's faults, helping a child like him making such an amazing growth, in only half a year no less, was amazing. On top of that, his lexile range was "BR" (beginning reader) in September and now is up over 560...that is a tremendous growth to make. My non-ESL kids aren't making that kind of growth.

I was SO proud of him that I asked him if he minded if I shared his success with the class. I didn't want to do it without his permission because I didn't want to embarrass him but he knows I would never purposely do something like that to make a kid feel bad so he said okay. The entire class clapped and cheered for this boy when I shared the news with them. I wanted to cry at their compassion and understanding of how big of a deal that was for this friend of ours.

I am one darn lucky teacher to have these amazing children in my class and in my life. They have taught me so much about myself as a teacher, about why I needed to leave my last classroom and how good things come to those who wait (good karma as my therapist would say).

I went down and told Mrs. Principal about our preliminary results and said "see, it was the gum!" and she just laughed and said "whatever works, let's keep doing it!"