As schools across the country begin testing season, teachers hold a high level of stress that is difficult to describe. Not only do educators have a lot on their plates to begin with, but testing means less content-driven time and more “let’s prepare for the test” time. We spend time teaching relaxation strategies, how to narrow your answers down, and how to manage your time. Many evaluations now tie student testing scores to teacher performance ratings, making the situation even more difficult. Even worse, kids are stressed out about the tests too. The Washington Post recently said that an average student will take about 112 required standardized tests in their schooling from pre-k to the end of high school. With all the over-the-top emphasis on high-stakes testing, I think it’s important to focus on some positives thoughts to remember during this time:
1. Kids are way more than a test score. A standardized test doesn’t capture so many amazing qualities. It doesn’t show your kids’ creativity, generosity, thoughtfulness, curiosity, patience, self-control, honesty, and so much more. Standardized tests are just ONE measure of a child’s ability. They are not the be-all and end-all of education and learning.
2. Teachers are more than just a test score, too! It’s insane to have to even write that, but with evaluations tied to student evaluations, we have to remember that our abilities as educators don’t just boil down to our students’ test scores. Let’s consider some things looking at a child’s test score doesn’t show about his or her teacher: a teacher’s drive, love, compassion, firmness, organization, classroom management, positivity, encouragement, dependability, energy, and excitement for learning.
3. Some kids just can’t DO standardized testing. Don’t beat yourself up over the child who can’t sit still, won’t focus, rushes through in 4 minutes, or acts out to get out of testing. Some students, both with disabilities and without, just can’t do what a standardized test expects for a period of time and it’s not their fault. Should the test be fitting them, and not the other way around? As for older kids, some just aren’t at all motivated by the test, which (again) is also not their fault. Yes, we’d like every student to try their absolute best to show what they know. In the end, though, whatever our kids do is what they can do at that moment. And that’s okay.
4. Kids remember experiences, not the testing. Even though we all know and see kids who are stressed out with the testing, in most cases, they won’t remember it years from now. Once we get through it, know it’s over for the year.
5. After testing, you can ENJOY teaching again. Consider doing fun projects you’ve done in the past or units that really interest you and the kids. Do an ancestry family tree project. Build your own theme park. Try a fun end of the year time capsule activity. Anything fun will work! Now that the pressure is off from the testing, keep teaching the way you love to teach.