Slice of Life Tuesday: Testing, testing, testing…

Slice of Life Tuesday is hosted by Two Writing Teachers

Spring Break is over and testing season is here – the PARCC test, and the “too cool for school” test.   The PARCC test will be over and done with in a week…the other test, well, that will take longer than we have time for this school year.

Every year,my sixth graders return from their Spring Break on the precipice of adolescence.   A switch is flipped by some mysterious, known-only-to-sixth-graders force, and they return from break seventh graders in spirit and behavior.  Suddenly (or so it seems), there is a need to present a cool facade, a demeanor of disinterest, a sort of “I’m kinda done with this little place-ness”.  Everyone has a crush on someone else, and middle school drama begins to show up at inopportune times…in the middle of book club, for instance.

Sly smiles, and throwing serious shade  become common place; a need to watch oneself becomes moment by moment work, for one never knows who is watching, or what they might say.

Of course, all of the above does daily battle with the pre-Spring Break self who fights mightily, and with success, at every turn.   That sophisticated sixth grader can (ion the blink of an eye) morph back into the kid who laughs at fart jokes, needs to build a “reading fort” behind the easel, and wants to spend choice time writing about magic wands.

And, of course, there is the unrelenting need to test boundaries, rules, limits, patience…and sometimes even kindness.  They are watchful when testing, paying close attention to how far they can push before there is push back, to whether the same rules apply in the same way they did when the year first began.

They are comfortable with each other and me, sometimes too comfortable.  Throughout the day there is the constant push and pull of maintaining that exact level of comfort that allows for freedom of expression, creativity, and thinking, and yet prevents all of that good stuff from careening off into mayhem (which they both yearn for and and are terrified of).

Testing, testing, testing….

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15 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: Testing, testing, testing…

  1. When my sixth graders made that turn, I was ready to send them down the hall for seventh grade! You described it so well. Good luck with the testing, testing, testing of the PARCC and the end of sixth grade, hello seventh grade!

    • So true: April, precipice of adolescence, and a switch is flipped that totally transforms the students! I wonder what one rule or boundary they would MOST like to change. Is it possible?

  2. I sometimes thought that time of year was like the game of “Whack-a-Mole”. I had the mix of 8th graders ready to leave for good, 7th graders ready to be the “top”, & those few 6th graders ready to join the ranks of “cool.” You’ve described it very well. Time for testing did not happen to me, so I wish you well. Perhaps the quiet of that will settle them all for a while.

  3. You’ve written the best description of that awkward pre-adolescent-morphing-into- adolescent period I’ve ever read! I wonder how they’d react to what you wrote about them. It’s written so wisely, and lovingly…. That last paragraph is a gem!

  4. YES! You must be describing my class. 🙂 The almost-May 6th graders… they sit at my table with their snacks during a brain break, and act like I’m their favorite person in the world, and then 2 minutes later they can’t believe I’m asking them to get out their notebooks to start working!

  5. The school year is one of our cycles of life… and as the end of a grade level approaches there is that celebration of a year behind… then, summer gives us a breather before we enter the grade year. I think what you so aptly describe happens at every grade, but the hormones magnify it in the middle school years as “they both yearn for and are terrified of” what lies ahead.

  6. Wonderful, accurate description! Exhausting work, this: “a need to watch oneself becomes moment by moment work, for one never knows who is watching, or what they might say.”

  7. Perfect! I am feeling that with our 5th graders who will leave us for middle school this year. I am just hoping to hold on to them for another week to get through the state tests. Then we can just work through this craziness. We will be on to the end of year projects, research and small group work. Hope that settles them because we have a long way to go until June 12.

  8. I honestly thought your slice was going to be all about your state testing but to my surprise it is such a clever description of your 6th graders. I found myself nodding head and laughing along because mine are the same way. Enjoy the rest of your school year with them as they continue to test, test, test!

  9. Oh my gosh, I was thinking the same thing about my 5th graders right after spring break. (Middle school starts in 6th for our kiddos.) They came back and I literally was wondering what happened to them. This is my first year in 5th grade, so it was new to me. I don’t like it.

  10. Your definition of sixth graders shifting to seventh graders after spring break is extremely familiar my fifth graders shift to sixth graders. The biggest difference is my fifth graders leave elementary school and I think that is part of their nervousness.

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