As the school year ends and we ponder whether we have been the best teachers we possible could be by looking at test results, I wonder, what are we missing? Are these results the only marker of whether a child has been successful this year? Are tests, homework grades, attendance and all the other quantifiables really how we as a world want to measure whether we touched a child, whether we made a difference, whether we succeeded?
I define success as the child who wrote a 6-page fairy tale just because he had to get all his thoughts down on paper.
Or the child that asks to have lunch with me because they want to share their life.
How about the child that blogs back to us after circumstances tore him from our classroom and he didn’t get a chance to say goodbye? Now he checks in on a regular basis.
Is success defined as the child who memorized their math facts or realized why they were important?
Is it defined as the child who succeeded on all tests without our teaching or the one who was challenged because we realized they needed to be?
Or is it defined as creating a community of learners, that may be a little noisy, but are demanding, thoughtful, and eager to do more, to have more choice, to be a part of the teaching?
I define success as the child who is sad about school being over even though an amazing vacation is planned. Who is mourning the fact that the year went so quickly and yet they are ready to move on.
I define success as the child who asks me to keep on teaching them even though recess has begun, even though friends from other classrooms are beckoning, even though the bus is waiting.
Success is what we are here for, but it is up to us, how we define it. My students have all been successful this year, even if a test states the opposite. They have all grown, some more than others, and they have all learned. And that is what success should be; to take a child from one place and move them to another. Or even better, to help a child move from one place into a better, deeper, and more successful place. We are all successful as long as we believe in the power of our students, no tests can take that away from us.