An Open Letter from a Teacher to her Son on Test Day

by - April 30, 2018

Dear son,

Today is test day. You went to bed early. You ate a piping hot bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. You cleaned every smudge from your glasses. You wore your lucky bracelt. 

As I pulled up to the school and stopped the car to let you out, I turned and saw the look of anxiety and fear on your face. You hugged me, and I could feel your little heart pounding in your little chest. You whispered goodbye and I love you in a meek little voice. I wanted to hold you forever. I wanted to drive away and save you.

As your Mom, I want to protect you. I want to hold you in a bubble and guard your little heart against every cruel thing that this life is going to throw at you. As a Mom, I want to save you from the anxiety that test day causes you. I want to wrap you in a blanket and shut out the harsh world that wants to turn the innocence of your childhood into an anxiety-ridden nightmare. 

I am sorry. 

As a teacher, I hate seeing what testing does to kids. I hate the fear and the angst and the pressure. But I understand the need for standards in education, accountability for school districts, schools, and even teachers. I get it. I don't like it, but I get it.

So even though I made you get out of the car and sent you to take a test that gives you anxiety, I want you to know a few things:

1. You are so much more than a test score. You are funny, and wise, and kind, and capable of accomplishing anything. A test score cannot measure the incredibleness that is who you are. A test score is a data point. You are not a data point. You are the air in my lungs.

2. Sometimes in life we have to deal with hard things that we don't like. Sometimes we have to face things that make us scared. Sometimes we have to deal with things that make our hearts pound out of our chests. In those moments, we grow. We learn about ourselves and what we are truly capable of. We build character, compassion, empathy, and strength. Today is one of those times. The growth that you experience today can never be measured in a test, but it will serve you well in life.

3. You are capable. You have worked hard this year. You have grown and improved. You have learned so much that your brain might burst. You have accomplished amazing things, and you are capable of greatness. 

4. Take it all in stride. Appreciate the feeling of accomplishment when you submit your test and know that you did your best. That's all you can ever do. Be proud of what you accomplished, and don't beat yourself up over "what could have been." 

5. The day won't last forever. In no time at all, I will be picking you up and hugging you tight. It will be over before you know it. Breathe. I will love you no matter what your test scores are. You are loved. You are wanted. You are amazing. Those are things that can never be measured on a test. And I promise, those things are way more important. 

Though today will suck, it will end and another day will come. You can do it. And as I spend my day teaching my own class full of anxious students, I will think about you and count down the minutes until I can hug you and tell you that no matter what, I am proud of you. 


Mom. <3

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