First, take a deep breath. Remind yourself that you are a great educator doing extraordinary things every day. This is easy to forget as the stress of “state assessment time” takes over. And that stress can wash over your students, too. But there are ways to help alleviate at least some of that anxiety.
We gathered a few tried and true methods that can take some of the sting out of testing time. Add a few of these stress-busting tips to your routine:
1. Start with the three “Cs” to enhance your sense of calm
- Clear your classroom of any distracting elements to ensure the testing environment is ready for your students.
- Count your tests.
- Collect all of the test-taking materials you will need, like pencils, erasers, notepads, etc. And don’t forget comfortable “quiet” shoes to wear as you traverse the classroom aisles to monitor your students.
2. Gather with your peers
If all of the educators and support staff in your school environment look panicked and stressed, your students will respond in kind and that won’t benefit anyone. It’s important to have conversations with your peers to not only strategize about how to make this time more effective and successful, but to debrief. You will soon find that many of the problems you face are probably things your colleagues have encountered, too. And, of course, your good-news stories are always a reason to celebrate!
3. Minimize student stress
Keeping your students from getting mentally derailed by testing stress is an important part of making this effort effective. Select several game activities or mini-contests to play between segments for a mental recharge. If the weather will allow, students often get rejuvenated simply from getting some fresh air.
4. Plan what you’ll do after your students have finished testing
Take some time at the end of each day to decompress, enrich yourself and get inspired. Maybe brush up on your technology skills with a self-study course. Or learn fun ways to reinforce your students’ skills with inexpensive online courses.
Read a good book that has nothing to do with academics to take your mind completely away for a little while.
Take up a new app. You can learn more about educator-centric apps with a quick online course. Or find out why your students are obsessed with certain apps by giving them a try. You’ll relate to students on another level when you feel the same sense of excitement and fun they experience.
5. Give yourself an “out”
Schedule time at the end of the day and/or week to go out with friends, get out with colleagues, let it out at the gym or put it all out there on the basketball court. Find an activity that will allow you to let off some steam after a long day or week of assessment testing.
Finally, it’s important to know that your students will truly be fine. Give yourself a pat on the back for working hard, caring deeply and for being a critical part of their future success.