While the schools in Pennsylvania are closed, Steven Singer self-quarantined, took some time to reflect on his students, his schools, and where we go when life resumes.

He wrote:

I’m…filled with a deep sense of gratitude that I’m a public school teacher.

My last class was a rough one – 7th graders running around the room with half written poetry demanding instruction, guidance, reassurance. My morning 8th graders were likewise rushing to complete a poetry assignment – frantically asking for help interpreting Auden, Calvert, Henley, Poe, Thomas.

What a privilege it has been to be there for them! How much I will miss that over the few next weeks!

Who would ever have thought we’d go into self quarantine to stop people from getting infected?

It says something about us that what seemed impossible just a few days ago has become a reality. We actually saw a problem and took logical steps to avoid it!

I know – we could have done a better job. We could have acted more quickly and in many areas we haven’t done nearly enough (New York, I’m looking at you).

But what we have done already shows that human beings aren’t finished. We have massive problems waiting to be solved – global climate change, social and racial inequality, the corrupting influence of money in politics, etc. However, we CAN do the logical thing and solve these problems!

No matter how crazy it seems now, tomorrow could be filled with rational solutions. If only we allow ourselves that chance.

So my spirits are high here in my little hollow nestled in with my family.

But being a teacher I can’t help thinking about what’s to come next.

Eventually this whole ordeal will be over.

Schools will reopen. Things will get back to normal. Or try to, anyway.

The challenge will be attempting to overcome the month or more of lost schooling…

I anticipate being back in school by mid April or so. That would leave about a month and a half left in the year.

This really leaves us with only two options: (1) hold our end of the year standardized tests and then fit in whatever else we can, or (2) forgo the tests and teach the curriculum.

If we have the tests, we could hold them shortly after school is back in session. That at least would give us more time to teach, but it would reduce the quality of the test scores. Kids wouldn’t be as prepared and the results would be used to further dismantle the public school network.

Much better I think is option two: skip the tests altogether.

Frankly, we don’t need them. Teachers observe students every day. We give formal and informal assessments every time we see our kids. We’re like scientists engaged in a long-term study taking daily measurements and meticulously recording them before coming to our year end conclusions called classroom grades.