Priority–The Test or the Child?

Teachers, join me each Tuesday,  and share a slice of your life with other teachers.

Teachers, join me each Tuesday, and share a slice of your life with other teachers.

The title sounds like a post where I’m going to get all philosophical about teaching and testing—that’s not the case. I’m thinking of how sometimes priorities are chosen for me, and at those times I also need to show the people who matter that they, too, are among my priorities.

Being that my husband and I both are in the middle of our Milestones (the GA version of the CC tests), we arranged so my brother-in-law could take my mom to my 2nd grade daughter’s wax museum. Sarah Woodall will be Jane Goodall tomorrow, and I hate that I will miss it; however, tests and critical days happen to be priorities. I don’t really mean that the CC test is more important than my daughter; however, part of being the teacher I strive to be involves being there for my students during testing.

I shopped with Sarah for her outfit and supplies, I read with her, I helped her create her backboard, I found photos, I helped her memorize her speech. Her presentation is going to be amazing. She is so into being a little scientist, she picks the most interesting facts, and she is naturally engaging and adorable (modest, I know).

Last weekend I found out that my mom and my brother-in-law would  NOT be able to attend. I wrestled with that, imagining my little Sarah looking so adorable without having a parent or family member there, yet I just didn’t want to leave my students on day 5 of testing (the squirrelly little sixth graders they are). They count on me. I know what they need. I know who will fall asleep and will need to be gently awakened. I know who needs tissues. I know who likes their pencils extra sharp. I know how to motivate those who need a little extra motivation. I am the voice that reads the directions. I am the one who paces the room. I can’t leave them. Luckily my husband teaches high school, he is close to Sarah’s school, and his kids are testing online–he will be able to swing over and quickly celebrate her day.

I beat myself up a bit over not asking off, especially when I found out my mom wouldn’t have a ride. I thought to myself, “This is like a dang test is more important than my daughter.” GET REAL, MAYA. I know that sometimes our priorities are not our wants and are not even what’s actually “big picture” more important.

In fact, Google defines prioritize as “to designate or treat (something) as more important than other things.” As I read that earlier in the week, I thought, “How can I find ways this week to show Sarah she’s just as important as a test?” I’d like to think I have. Here are some things I did.

  1. Give her time.
  2. Give her more time. Leave work earlier.
  3. Snuggle more.
  4. Let her fall asleep with me, and then, don’t get back up to grade.
  5. Hang out in the hammock with Sarah.
  6. Help with the project.
  7. Buy her a stuffed chimp prop to be Jane Goodall.
  8. After stuffed chimp (there was no tail in the picture online) arrives from Amazon, sew the tail so it disappears because as Sarah asserted, “That’s not a chimp it has a tail.” This was quite the feat for me–I’m no domestic sewing goddess.
  9. Listen to Sarah
  10. Write her a motivational note for wax museum day.

Yeah, I love teaching. I love my students. I do my job. I take responsibility seriously. So many times I allow myself to be pulled in too many directions, and I feel like I’m barely treading water.


Sometimes I feel as if I give in to what really should not be my top priority. What it comes down to for me is that I need to focus on not letting myself be pulled too much in one direction school and also not letting the direction of work consume me. I continue to find ways to prioritize the smaller tasks/priorities that are part of my bigger goals/visions. I think  for me it comes down to realizing what weight is needed for all the priorities.

Sure I have some upgraded papers this week, but I have spent time with my daughter, and I have been more present to the tasks at home (my son started spring football this week, too).

Speaking of those ungraded papers…that’s the 10:30 PM priority calling my name. Maybe I should call it a night and just make sleep my priority.


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