One of my students was upset today because she had done poorly on two tests. She spent a lot of time berating herself because she was “stupid.” This got me thinking about my students and the weight that they give to tests. Many of my students are bright, high achieving individuals. They are successful because when they come to my class, they try to do their best (most of the time. Sometimes they behave like kids. Because they’re teenagers. I expect them to be silly – I would worry if they weren’t). It saddens me to think that anyone can think that their abilities can be measured by one or even two tests. Two failed tests does not make you stupid. In fact, even failing ALL the tests doesn’t make you stupid. Did my student have a bad day? Yes. Was she overloaded with tests last week? Yes. Did she do the best she could? Maybe, maybe not. But she stayed after school with me until 4pm today working on test corrections. She asked questions about the ones she missed so she could understand the material better. She worked steadily for about an hour and a half, and I think she learned something more about history.
I hope that at some point in the near future, she will also realize that she learned something else: a test does not determine who you are. A test measures what you were able to do on a particular subject at a particular moment in time. I hope that she realizes that because she stayed, asked questions and learned something new about history, she is in fact the complete opposite of stupid.