by an anonymous Utah student teacher
Last semester I worked in a first grade classroom as part of a class I was I was taking at Utah Valley University. The teacher said she could do more teaching if she didn’t have to do so much Common Core testing, so she had me do the testing. These children have 4 packets, 20-25 pages each, they have to get through during the year. Part of this is a list of 100 words, 400 for the year, they need to know by sight. As I was testing, one little boy he stopped and said, “I don’t like words. I don’t like reading. I don’t like books.”
My heart broke.
I went to our library here in town and checked out as many books as I could. I went back to school every day and pulled him out of class to read just one book to him. At first he was hesitant because he thought he was going to have to read to me. Eventually he relaxed and started enjoying. He got so he would even turn the pages on occasion. We read one book, “The Red Book,” which has no words in it. You make up the story yourself. When we finished I asked him if he’d rather read a book like this or would he rather have a book with the words already there.
He preferred a book with words in it. This went on for several weeks.
Then they had a reading competition in the classroom. On Friday whoever read the most books that week got to wear the pirate hat. I came in one Friday and he was wearing the pirate hat.
Since then it has occurred to me that I should talk to the principal. How would he feel if someone came into his office and tested him regularly, and often, to see whether he is making any progress, getting everything done that he should do, etc.? He would probably quit his job if he was under such testing regulations, and still they put these little kids through all this stress.
This teacher has eighteen students. Within a week I could tell which six children were working above grade level, which 6 children were working at grade level, and which 6 children were working below grade level. This was simply from my observations, not from any testing I was doing. Six children took the assignments and whizzed through them. Six children took the assignments and worked through them, but eventually they got there. Six children got very little of the assignments done without help, and in some cases a lot of help. Obviously, Common Core upsets me. I’m sure there is some good there, and there are good intentions, but they are way off base.