To my year 7 students,
Very soon you will sit down to complete Australia’s standardised test. You don’t know exactly what the assessment is for, but you know it is ‘important’. It makes your teachers, principals and parents stressed. It makes you stressed, because you know how important it is to so many people. But here is the one thing I want you to know:
YOU ARE IMPORTANT.
It does not matter whether you are above or below the ‘standard’, or what area you do better or worse in. What matters is YOU and YOUR learning.
If, on the day, you freeze and cannot make sense of the questions, it does not matter. If you face questions you don’t know the answer to, it does not matter. If you face questions and you know all of the answers, it does not matter.
What DOES matter is everything you have learnt in your last eight years of school. In the the last term. In the last week. Yesterday. Look at how far you have come. Whether you are mastering algebra, or just beginning to get the hang of dividing decimals, look at how much you have learnt! Look at how much you are capable of, and how much you will continue to achieve in the future.
I can safely say that every single one of you has made a massive achievement in the last term. I have only known you a few months, but I am proud to know you all. You amaze me every day.
When you sit down to complete the tests, remember how hard you worked to understand equivalent fractions. How many times you read newspaper articles to try and analyse them deeper. How many new words you learnt while writing persuasive texts. Remember how you could not do those things nine weeks ago, but now you can. Be proud of yourself, and remember that no matter what questions are put in front of you in the NAPLAN booklet, you have already achieved so much.
We have talked about equality, and about respect for other people. We have learnt about justice and what it means to be fair. It is not fair that you are judged as a dot on a scale. That dot does not consider your personality, your background, your family, your experiences, your passions, your weaknesses. You are so much more than that.
As soon as it is over, your learning will begin again, and I am sure you will continue to show me how much you are capable of, even at twelve years old. Imagine what you will be capable of at thirteen, and beyond!
Do not let one test determine your future. You all have amazing futures, no matter where the strangers put your ‘dot’. Your families and your teachers all know it. We just need you to believe it too.