I think I like analogies, because they help me understand better all the time, because they can help the more complicated become easy, really to be creative. I like them because they seem to help me make connections, help me to realize, and reaffirm at times.
This analogy is about running and assessment. I recently ran a race, it was a half marathon through the woods, up an over some pretty tough climbs, through a river, slippery sides of a river, and thousand and thousands of large rocks that came up out of the ground. It was slow going at times, this was the first time I ever had to walk in a race. I went into it knowing that this was going to be the case, I knew at the end that my time, which most all races are measured in, would not indicate that I went very fast.
Throughout the race there were different sections that were challenges, falling a few times reminded me that I needed to take my time or risk being hurt. Some of the climbs seemed to go on forever and then finally you would get that break. I sped up whenever I felt I could. Whenever I saw some flat ground and yards in front of me, I went as fast as my body would allow, knowing this part of the race was probably short lived.
I was prepared, I had practiced, and run for months leading up to this. I knew I could run the distance, I only did not know if I was strong enough with all the hills and that my ankles/knees could survive the pounding of the path. I questioned myself throughout and at one point at about mile 6 after a tough climb wondered for a second how disappointed with myself I would be if I gave up...
That is about when I thought about the analogy to school, but more specifically about assessment. This race was a summative assessment of sorts. I had practiced, put down some times leading up, and prepared. I sort of knew the content, but specifics of what was was coming? I did not know the specific questions or content. During the process it was hard and easy at times. I felt good and really bad at times. I was doing it with a lot of other people, but was still very much an individual exercise. I knew I would be done at some point, finished, happy it was over, while still understanding that there would always be a little regret. Why couldn't I have just done that part a little faster, pushed a little harder.
I like analogies and this one I created in my head at about mile 6, helped me reconnect a bit with the mental struggle our students go through with assessments. Helped remind me that not all have trained as hard before, not all have the same mental gifts, not all have the same nice equipment to push through. Not all have the time to practice, not all have the same privilege, not all have had multiple opportunities to race without distraction, and not all have the same motivation.
Just a little reminder that although races and assessments are done alone, only challenging yourself, not all have the same.... (You fill in the blank) and keep it in mind the next time one of your students is struggling to push through, wants to give up on mile 6 and think about how you are going to react to them to keep them going? That is the only question you need to answer...