Statewide testing happens every spring, but teachers and students often dread it. And although the stakes are so high and test results matter, our students should always come first. Here are our top tips for how to show your students you care about and value them, even when testing days are so regimented and difficult — from both a mental and emotional standpoint.Mar 15, 2022
Spring testing — from SATs to AP exams to the AASA (Arizona’s Academic Standards Assessment) — can be dreaded by teachers and students alike. As teachers, we know we must maintain rigid testing agendas, but we also realize that our students need our support more than ever during this season, which is why it’s so important to stay in tune with our students’ individual needs during this time. This paradigm creates a difficult balancing act that often makes testing days feel impossible to get through.
To help relieve some of this stress, we’ve compiled a list of ways to ease the burden of testing season, and to remind your students that you’re always in their corner.
Greetings Go a Long Way
When teachers begin their careers, many are advised to always greet every student when they walk into the classroom. We’re often told that our “good morning” and a smile may be the only pleasant greeting some students will receive all day. Particularly during testing season, a simple greeting could be the thing that frames their attitude and engagement in your class that day. And it’s one of the simplest ways to make each one of your kids feel your love.
Make Test Prep Fun
There is no better way to ease testing pressure than a fun game. For example, rather than assigning practice questions individually, have your students team up for a “Jeopardy!”-style game. You will likely see higher engagement as teams discuss each question, and students will be motivated by the prospect of winning. Even though it’s just test prep in disguise, it will feel like a much-needed break for both you and your students.
Monitor for Students Who Behave Differently
While some students (especially high schoolers) may exhibit classic signs of stress, others may manifest through different behaviors, such as acting out in class. Keep an eye out for any change in your students’ behavior, as this will be an indicator of when you may need to provide them with extra support. For some students, a simple check-in and informal conversation will suffice; for others, a reference to the school social worker or counselor may be more appropriate.
Provide Positive Reinforcement
Societal pressure to achieve high test scores results in many students worrying that their own abilities won’t measure up. If you can regularly provide words of encouragement and positivity, it will make a difference in their feelings of self-worth and overall motivation. Even on test day, when you’re standing in front of students you don’t regularly teach, if they believe that you truly believe in them, it can make all the difference in their attitude during the test.
Don’t Forget About Self-Care
We focus so much on exam structure and content that it’s easy to overlook the most basic elements to academic performance — sleep and food consumption. Be deliberate about talking through their habits at home, both making students aware of their current habits and guiding them to make healthy changes. Should they eat breakfast before coming to school on test day? What could breakfast look like? How much sleep should they get the night before? And why is sleep so important? By simply discussing these topics with your students, they’ll quickly realize how important good habits are — especially during testing season.
Need More Ways To Show Your Students How Valued They Are?
Testing season or not, it’s critical that we as teachers constantly show (and remind) our students that they’re our Number 1 priority — and building an inclusive classroom is a great way to accomplish that. Check out our tips for establishing a learning environment where all students can thrive.