Well, it’s here. Testing season. Those weeks in April and May that all teachers dread. Crazy schedules, stressed out kids, different lunch schedules, students pulled from class, lost planning time, anything and everything can happen during these weeks and usually does. While testing schedules and time frames vary from elementary to high school, the stress and disruption affects us all.
In my 26 years of teaching I have seen testing become a monster — national tests, state tests, district tests, Advanced Placement tests, student growth measures and the list continues. Over the years I’ve seen teachers and students break under the pressure of high stakes testing.
So, the question is how do we survive testing season? How do we keep learning going? How can we support students and each other during this time?
- Keep your classroom as normal as possible. Make your room the one place students know what to expect, they will appreciate you for it.
- Keep teaching, but try something new — a new strategy, a new activity, try something that gets students moving — remember they’ve been been sitting most of their day.
- Practice relaxation and de-stressing techniques with your students. They can help you just as much as your students.
- Know that something will go wrong. Be prepared for it.
- Be patient — with students, with other teachers, with parents, and especially with your testing coordinator.
- Teach the kids that walk in your door. Just because half the class is testing for another subject doesn’t mean the other half of your class doesn’t deserve a good lesson. Here’s a great chance to try something new and different, break out a strategy you’ve always wanted to try. Engage the students in your room, no matter how many there are.
- Have a plan A, a plan B and a plan C because…. see #4.
- Be positive. Our students pick up on our energy. If you are positive about the testing scenario, then they will be too.
- Be a team player. No one likes testing, no one likes to be pulled from class to proctor, but getting on board and being willing to help out when needed makes everyone’s day go a bit smoother.
- Relax — You’ve done your job, now it’s time for the students to do theirs. Don’t worry about the outcomes, just keep doing what you know is best for kids.
- Reward yourself and your team. At the end of testing, do something special for someone. I have brought in lunch for my department, given candy bars to teachers after their last testing session, written notes to teachers who had a rough week, a small gesture to say I know you went above and beyond this week.
While we all dread testing, it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Keeping your cool and going with the flow helps us as teachers help our students deal with the stresses of testing. How do you handle the unpredictability of testing season?