Teachers across the state of Pennsylvania are gearing up for the most dreaded weeks of the school year. Yes, worse than the Monday – Wednesday of Thanksgiving week; yes, worse that the week before the winter recess. It’s standardized test season!
Here is a checklist to help you and your students survive:
1.) Have your kids clean out their desks completely. Old papers can go home, books can be stored in bookcases, coat closets, or their lockers.
2.) Talk to your students who struggle the most with these situations about where they will be seated in the classroom. I ask them directly – where do you think you will be most successful?
3.) Space the desks so you can easily walk through every aisle. There is nothing worse than banging into the sides of desks for a few hours as you are active monitoring!
4.) No matter how much you are feeling the pressure from administrators or the district, do not pass this anxiety on to your students. Stop calling them “high-stakes” tests, or making it seem like it’s the most important thing they will do all year. Remind them to just do the best they can, that’s all we can ask.
5.) Sharpen all the pencils. And then sharpen some more. Oh, while you are at it, buy a new pencil sharpener. The one you have will undoubtably break.
6.) Remember you are not going to have your prep at your scheduled time. If this means missing a usual morning break, get up and have your coffee earlier. Then you won’t have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the test!
7.) Buy the jumbo size bag of mint Lifesavers. When you see a student start to get tired or lose focus, drop one on their desk.
8.) Tissues, tissues, tissues!
9.) Bring your fitbit. Time to get your steps in!⋅
10.) Encourage them to bring healthy snacks to eat between test sections. Bring some in for students you know may not be able to do this.
11.) As you look around your room (and NOT AT TEST QUESTIONS) remember that there is something really off about covering up books and other learning tools in buildings that are suppose to be dedicated to educating. Is a sign that says READ over a classroom library really going to give a kid an answer on a test?!
12.) Send parents and students a friendly reminder that yes the tests are this week, but also their kids are much, much more.
13.) Remember that throughout the school year, you have taught and they have learned. No score on any standardized test can judge your merit as a teacher or everything your students’ have accomplished.
Good luck! Six weeks until Memorial Day weekend!