For many, April marks the beginning of pollen-related allergies, longer days, and less layers. For educators, it means testing season is upon us. With administration piling high, and pressure steadily mounting, preparations for state tests are in full swing across the country. To help educators keep a cool head and focus on what really matters during this hectic rush to the finish line, we’ve gathered a few of our top tips:
#1. See the Bigger Picture
Despite the many shortcomings of standardized tests, the focus of testing season should be on the value of assessment, above all. By continuously reinforcing the importance of skills, and encouraging formative assessment, students can begin to see the bigger picture, and appreciate the value of assessment as a whole.
#2. Realise Your Worth
Despite the pressure placed on educators to self-evaluate after testing, it’s important to remember that the results do not reflect your performance. Rather an indication of your ability to prepare students for the exam procedure, standardised test scores reveal little to nothing about your efforts in preparing students for 21st century life and careers.
#3. Collaborate with other Teachers
Testing season is no time to go it alone. The ideal time to indulge in the “problem shared is a problem halved” philosophy, collaboration could be the key to helping you and your students survive and thrive. Sharing ideas, lessons, resources, and concerns, working with your colleagues will help you to pool together and ‘tackle’ testing in a better way.
#4. Facilitate Independent Learning
With most of the ‘instruction’ out of the way, it’s time to take a step back and allow your students to become self-educators, driving their own learning through critical thinking. Using adaptive learning platforms, students can learn at any time, and any pace, both inside and outside of the classroom.
#5. Keep Students Supported
As Lori Desautels explains, testing season is a stressful time for students and faculty, where emotions run high, and hostility can take hold. The best way to help students to cope with the mounting pressures, and to maintain a positive outlook is to make sure they feel supported. Using social media to stay connected with your students is a great way to ensure open communication at all times, where no one suffers in silence.
#6. Gather Your Data
As your students begin to take ownership of their learning, testing season is an ideal time to begin gathering your data and getting the insights you need to support every student. Using learning analytics, you can track student performance easily, and quickly, getting the insights you need to take the right action.
#7. Involve Parents
The stress of testing season is not only felt at school, with parents undergoing a similar strain at home. Keeping parents informed of class activity through a website, blog, or learning platform ensures good communication and collaboration that will keep students supported at all times.
8. Facilitate Peer Teaching
With students in the driver’s seat, steering their own learning, has there ever been a more ideal time for peer teaching? By facilitating peer collaboration through social media using a learning platform, students are encouraged to learn through teaching, in a way that they enjoy.
9. Encourage Self-Assessment
Allocating time for self-assessment and reflection is crucial during testing season. Showing students how to identify their strengths and weaknesses allows them to drive their own success, applying the lessons learned to their preparations, while saving you time!
10. Take Time Out!
Perhaps one of the most essential practices during testing season… taking time out from testing. Although a stressful time for educators and students, looming tests also bring an opportunity to have fun with your students and explore new classroom dynamics, so take advantage!
Image credits: Sara V. / CC BY 2.0