A few years ago while taking coaching classes, I learned about Crazy Makers. Crazy Makers are people or events that drop into our space uninvited. Once entering, Crazy Makers cause turmoil and drama in the areas we thought we had some control. Crazy Makers are experts at throwing us off balance and causing chaos. Over the years I’ve been pretty good at identifying them before they invade my boundaries. Recently however, I am finding that before I can even identify who the Crazy Makers are, they have already infiltrated my perimeters. The Crazy Makers have a knack for making it difficult for teachers to facilitate the kind of teaching that reflects best practice and developmentally appropriate learning.
Historically, January, February, and March are the “meaty” months of teaching. Routines have been established, community has been formed, and both students and teachers are immersed into the rigor and excitement of learning. Not so much this year. The Crazy Makers have invaded my classroom with the latest round of testing: computerized testing no less! The tests bring with them a prescribed list for implementation. The Crazy Maker mandates require that my third graders have key-boarding skills, that there is a scheduled time for practicing the test format, another time for an interim practice of the test, then yet another practice for an example of an almost real test, and finally in March, the real deal which requires six hours of testing for both ELA and math. The results of the final tests arrive before summer break so the students who don’t meet the benchmarks can have a special parent conference with the principal to set up summer plans for another chance to meet expectations for the following year.
Now to my way of thinking, if my teaching efforts were totally focused on actual teaching during those three months instead of scheduling practices in the computer lab, we probably wouldn’t need summer plans for students. But true to Crazy Maker form, they didn’t ask for my opinion, they just showed up uninvited.
I have encountered similar Crazy Makers in the past, but the Crazy Makers of late are sneaky and elusive. I am not sure how they scaled so many walls so quickly. I am also not sure how to protect my students from their unsound mandates. There is however, one thing I am very sure of. I am sure that I will continue to carve out sacred spaces for learning in spite of the Crazy Makers. I will not let the Crazy Makers take away the joy of learning from my students, or the joy of teaching from me.