Wednesday, February 24, 2010

State Testing: Life or Death?

I hope this is taken in the tongue and cheek way in which it is written, but state testing is coming up and I'm fairly certain that some teachers really believe that they will die if their students don't do well, that their students performance somehow determines their worth.

Now, maybe it is because I haven't been threatened with my expulsion due to test scores, merit based pay has yet to be implemented, or simply because I live in a world where all of my students are still learning the English language, but I just do not get all stressed out and scared about state testing. Even if I was scared to death about the ramifications, I wouldn't share that with my students because school is where I want them to learn, not the place where I want them to develop an early anxiety disorder.

When the climate of the school turns to "testing mode" the students are directly affected. How can they not be? If you are a talented educator and the students have any regards for you at all, they have become adept at reading your moods and respond in kind. A scared/stressed out/frazzled teacher leads to less-than-read-to-learn children. Less-than-ready-to-learn children can hardly be expected to perform well on anything, much less a foreign-looking high stakes assessment.

So my advice during these times is to trust yourself. Know that you did your best. Prepare your students in small chunks (so as not to overwhelm them) and then just let them go and show off all that knowledge that you've imparted. I know I might be oversimplifying, but what are you going to do if they fail? Life will not end, I assure you. We might as well give them a fighting chance to prove our worries wrong by calming down and making them feel secure enough to get to work.

No comments:

Post a Comment