Last week seems like a whirlwind. This year is my first as K-2 testing administrator and it has been a struggle. Currently, my K-2 team consists of seven teachers and two long term substitutes. The long term subsitutes cannot give the benchmark DIBELS & TRC assessments. Four of the seven teachers had never given either of these assessments before and would need to be trained. These same teachers were already giving up their prep for two weeks straight to get trained in Orton-Gillingham, a phonemic awareness reading program. I had to wait until this training was complete before I could give training on DIBELS & TRC which meant they would get trained after the testing window opened; two days of testing gone. District expectations are 95% of students will be assessed; my goal is 100%. The only reasonable solution I could find was to beseech other DIBELS & TRC trained staff to help administer the test and I would have to also test students. I’m not opposed to testing students, but I am conflicted because I cannot observe and coach teachers and test. The first month of school is crucial for setting expectations and I wanted to ensure my teachers had a firm grip and foundations before we were too far into the school year.
Although, I have not been able to coach my teachers during the testing window, I have had informal check-ins with them during the first two weeks of the testing window. Even though it is hard to listen to the same text being read again and again, I have enjoyed getting to know just a smidge about the students I want to impact through coaching their teachers.
Last Tuesday, I felt like I had jinxed us. I was meeting with my second grade team and I said, “This seems like the longest day.” I had tested students all day long and I knew I was beginning to come down with something. Ten minutes after I made that statement, everyone’s phone goes off and it is a tornado warning (not to be confused with a tornado watch which just means to be aware). This was about 3:45 and dismissal began at 3:50. Instead of packing up, students rushed to their tornado locations and it was not a drill. The first alett said the warning was until 4:00 p.m. No big deal. Around 3:55, phones goes off again stating the alert had been extended until 4:15 p.m. Okay. 4:15 p.m. When phones went off again stating the warning had been extended until 4:45 p.m. and the sky was the darkest gray, we knew we were in for the long haul.
My little kindergarteners were crying for their parents. Parents arrived upset that we hadn’t sent kids home; it’s safety first. Staff members who were new to our state were nervous about the tornado and the danger. In these situations, there is nothing you can do, but wait and reassure and that’s what I did though positive statements, empathizing with students who were hungry, and rubbing crying students’ backs. The warning was extended again until 5:45 p.m. and I left for home at 6:15 p.m.
This week is the final week of the testing window and the 95% completion rate seems insurmountable, but there is nothing I can do but press on and stay the course. Just like the tornado warning came to an end so will my first ever testing window I was administrator over. I just have to be reassured in our ability as a team to meet the goal.