Slice of Life Tuesday: Testing time means…desks in rows (ugh!)

Slice of Life Tuesday is hosted by Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers

The NJ ASK is upon us – which means two weeks of testing (one for the 7th. and 8th. grades, one for the 6th. grade – why we do it this way still puzzles me)  and two weeks of interrupted learning.   My sixth graders arrive at 11:00 this week, so as not to disturb the testing, but our room has already taken on the look of a “testing room” for the 7th. grade class assigned to our space – five rows of five desks….ugh! 
I walked into our classroom today, and gazed upon those rows with loathing.  Gone were our friendly pods of five desks, spaced at odd angles so that everyone could move around the room easily.  Gone was that friendly feel of a room where people often work together to learn, where discussion and collaboration is encouraged.  Gone was that familiar, reassuring  feeling of being able to see each face as I stood in front of the room.
Later, after the testing was over and my afternoon group arrived for their block of classes, my students seemed just as disoriented as I was.  They looked around the room in consternation: “Where do we sit?”,  “This is so weird!”, “Can’t we just move our desks back to normal?!”  We did the best we could to settle in, but no one could quite get used to the system of rows.  Writing Workshop conferences, our Triangle of Trade DBQ activity, our book club meetings (the order of business today)…none of them seemed quite the same now that we were sitting in rows.  Funny, how something like this can completely change the dynamic of the classroom.  The rows seemed to interfere with our cohesiveness, our sense of being a learning community.
At the end of the day, one of my kids asked if we could “go back to normal” tomorrow.  That means rearranging the desks...twice a day.  Should we do it?
Absolutely! Away with rows tomorrow!!!


14 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: Testing time means…desks in rows (ugh!)

  1. It is incredible to me how testing effects our teaching and our lives these days. I am so glad to hear you are reaching for normalcy as much as you can. That is SO much the right thing to do!

  2. I actually liked desks in rows as a student. I always sat (if I could) in the second row back but far from the teacher's desk. It was easier to hide and read a book that way. Alphabetically, I was always put in the back, which meant I had to make more of an effort to participate so that the teacher wouldn't call on me when I was at a good part in the book. I'm sure you engage your students enough that they don't feel compelled to do this!

  3. Hurrah for you Tara. Isn't it funny that those rows can make so much difference? I distinctly remember wanting to sit in the back of the classroom in some classes so I could hide out, but my name always placed me in the middle-no choice ever! I'm glad you have such a warmly arranged classroom, with cozy little groups. Testing brings out the worst in many things, doesn't it? Thanks for the sharing!

  4. Tara,We are testing this week too! Ohio Achievement Assessments…Standardized as well. It puts a lot of stress on the children, that's for sure. Your willingness to turn it back into community for the afternoon is wonderful. You must really know how much your children appreciate the arrangement of the community for them to request to have it changed back!

  5. Yes, end of the alphabet and next to tallest student…(way short now) meant I was in the back always. There's lots to do back there besides listen. Rearranging desks twice a day, especially for older kids should be quick. If they want it done, they are very good at getting that job done in seconds for you! Glad you decided to go with the flow!

  6. Don't you think it is ironic that we have to abandon best practice and take the students out of their normal learning environment to test them on what they have learned? It's like tying them in straight jackets and telling them to dance. Ugh!

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