Discovering My Impromptu K-8 Portfolio

Looking back at artifacts from when I was in my K-8 years, I remembered fearlessness, exploration, and a level of confidence that I didn’t know I had at the time. I’d love to share more…

A couple of weeks ago, I was looking through file cabinets, as I was searching for a document that was needed for income tax purposes, and I stumbled across a folder that contained my old end of the year testing records (from Kindergarten 84′-85′), old report cards from middle school, old results from my track meets, and metals/awards/certificates of honor.

Looking at the Kindergarten records, it showed that I already had strengths in reading, writing, and the ELAR areas.  My scores already showed a slight deficit in math in Kindergarten.  I got somewhat emotional looking at the results–I don’t really know why.  However, I think it just humbled me by reminding me of the journey that I took, and how far I have grown.  To see my beginnings and foundation, and how there are still many similarities yet many differences as well.

Students begin their primary years with their own set of issues and problems.  It’s not always a “clean slate”.  I was blessed to have a somewhat normal early childhood (though I did not attend preschool due to being well advanced academically).  Despite being bused to schools outside of my neighborhood (due to integration efforts by the district 15 years prior), and living in the poorest and most crime ridden area of town, my life was somewhat normal.

I was an ambitious, SUPER talkative (at home only), observant, and competitive child– and as a student that worked to my advantage.  I never gave my teachers any problems, and I was very willing to learn whatever was being presented.  As I got older, and entered fourth and fifth grade, I started to form interests in certain academic areas.  I attended Wichita School District #259, and each year I was tested in the spring using the ITBS tests.  Each year, I scored high in the areas of reading and English grammar skills, and my math slowly moved further behind on the scale.

Middle school was indeed an awkward time, as it is for most–but I really blossomed, and in fact, it was one of my most confident times in life.  I really explored who I was, and what I wanted for my future. I explored other languages in school, joined science clubs, the journalism club, student council, pep squad, choir, and became further interested in sports (particularly running my way to City League Top 10 in 100 and 200 sprints, and relay races). It was in those years, I decided that I wanted to be a lawyer, journalist, meteorologist or a teacher.

If I were to discuss any “rough patches” in my K-8 years, it would be that test scores zapped my interest in math (even to this day), and shook my confidence in my abilities.  I had been good at other subjects without much effort, but math required more from me.  I just thought my brain couldn’t process math problems correctly.  It took me getting to college in my senior year to find out that I was capable, but I just didn’t like doing things that didn’t interest me. I found that I was/am an over-thinker, and often this got in the way of simple processes. Not until I was working on my Doctorate, did I find that I was capable of doing amazing things in the area of math– once I got past my dislike and fears. (That darn statistics class!)

I am sharing all of this because I have a fifteen year career in education, and finding these items assured me the importance of my career and working with children and even older students. Growing up, I had support from teachers throughout those times.  I had teachers encouraging me. From my third grade teacher NOTICING and sharing with my parents that I was “bored” in class (and having me tested and sent to a magnet school), to my favorite fifth grade teacher Ms. Bonny Collins telling me that I had a “mental block” when it came to math, to middle school teachers encouraging me to sign up for challenging courses and not “take the easy way out”.

Never in a million years did I think finding my old “stuff” from elementary and middle school would later make sense to me, provide a revelation, or be of value beyond providing a memory. Finding these past educational and school related artifacts also showed me how fragile my career is, and the tiniest things have impacts on students.  What is just a test and “data” to lawmakers can be much more. Creating an encouraging, attentive, and safe learning environment is key in education.  My test scores, certificates, medals, results, and actions of my teachers shaped a part of who I am today.  Teachers, and those who work in schools– you make up a piece of your students educational portfolio, contribute your piece carefully.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week, 2018

-Dr. K. Childs

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