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Letter: Students show resiliency amid a flurry of tests
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I’ve been thinking about resiliency. It can be found in successful Fortune 500 companies and exists throughout our community. What is resiliency?

In its simplest form, it’s “keep on, keeping on, you can do this.” It’s overcoming obstacles and facing challenges and doing your best to be the best you can be. It’s picking oneself up after being knocked down. It’s resisting easy labels and portraying an unexpected work ethic.

Resiliency is surprising those around you; they thought you’d fold, but you mustered the courage and did not.

In the current state of educational affairs, I’m becoming attuned to the resiliency of this generation. As adults, we get bogged down in wondering what curriculum, how to test it, and when to do what. It fascinates me when we make decisions based from adult perspectives and fail to position ourselves as students. The challenge: become the student of students.

Whatever you believe about standardized testing, about Milestones, I’m observing every day this week amazing resiliency of adolescents. Being “wide awake” makes the difference. Students arrive at the doors with energy and overstated confidence. They step into testing environments where they work for hours to “show what they know.”

They finish testing then, they talk with friends, seeking ways to project their budding identities. They’re not beaten down. In fact, each day seems to get easier somehow. Some worry, some don’t particularly care, but during testing week, they arrive. They do it.

While I certainly don’t consider the test an end all be all — far from it, actually — my friend says, “It is what it is, let’s do it and get on with school.

Children don’t define school as “testing.” We like to block it in that way, but for most kids, school is friends, school is lunch, school is fun, school is football, school is spirit week, school simply is.

I’ll finish my rant about resiliency by sharing a story. I met with a student and his parents this week. I posed the question to the student, “Who in this school do you trust, who you know cares about you?”

The student identified the teacher. Then the words spilled from my lips, “Your teacher cares about you. She cares more about who you are, who you believe you are, how secure and confident you are and knowing you than she/he cares about content mastery.”

Peripherally, the parents looked confused. I finished, “She understands that you’ll master the content, that you’ll show up to class, dig in, give it your all, and leave a more confident student only if you know she cares. The relationship comes first. Then, she gets you to work harder than you thought you could. You find yourself, unconsciously, strengthening your ability to be profoundly resilient.”

As principal at NHMS, that’s what I’m learning during testing this week. I’m not going to obliterate testing. I can understand school better through the eyes of our students. I implore our legislators to do the same.

Shane Rayburn