Today's Five for Friday is all about surviving state testing!
Set up a school-wide support network!
The staff members at my school are amazing at supporting one another. They're always there to lend a hand, say a kind word, or just listen. One thing that has really helped carry me through testing is from special treats from the second grade team. Each primary grade level team paired up with a testing grade. We didn't know that this was coming but it was a pleasant surprise. From time to time, we will come in to work and see positive notes on our desks with little treats!! It definitely starts my day off with good vibes and the treats help me feel good right before our post-lunch testing session! They're also very open to listening to the skills that our students need to be successful on the test so that they can start building those in the younger grades.
Set up incremental testing rewards! The kids are working hard, reward them for it! In my class, the students vote for what they want to have as their testing reward. I have 3 small easily-attainable rewards and one big reward. I have a thermometer that I use to track how they're doing each day. They get points when I see them using good strategies like highlighting text, writing a gist, writing in complete sentences, restating the answer in their question, etc. Hopefully, they'll transfer these skills over to their test.
The kids at my school have voted for things like:
- Snack and chat
- Homework passes
- An afternoon of Kahoot
- Extra recess
- Ice cream party
- Rootbeer floats
- Sit with a friend for a day
All of these things keep them excited during testing time and work great to keep them motivated and working hard during the last weeks of the year!
Backup Test Administrators
Train backup test administrators and have them available! This has saved me! At my school, teachers administer state tests. However, many times, I've had one or two students who need extra time at the end of that day's test session. Or, I've had students who just really couldn't handle the group testing environment that day and they needed an alternate test setting and time. I know, at any time, that I can have someone there to support me in providing the calmest, most successful testing environment (within the acceptable parameters, of course) possible.
Plus, when teachers get sick, have family emergencies, or need a day off, there isn't any stress about test windows and test administration. There's a seamless plan in place to keep things moving along!
Yes, Go Noodle. Even in 5th grade, Go Noodle is amazing. My 5th graders ask me every day if we're going to have a brain break after testing. We've had one every single day...so of course we will! They need it. They just worked super hard. Think about how tired you feel after taking big tests! We always vote on a brain break video and that's the first thing we do after testing! It's a sanity saver. All they want to do after leaving that room is talk and move around anyway! Let them!
Last, but most certainly not least, take care of yourself! You need to take a break too. We all know that you're still working even during a brain break. So, stop for a minute. Do some yoga. Work in the garden. Visit with your family. Do what you need to do to relax and stop thinking about the dang test! It'll be there tomorrow...and next year! You've done the work to prepare them. Now, you need to let it go!!