I read an amazing blog post this morning, written by one of the wisest, kindest, most inspirational women I know, Jennifer Brockman. I had the pleasure of working with Mrs. Brockman during my senior year of high school with class officer stuff and graduation plans. She is an amazing woman and has three beautiful children. Her post was a heartwarming story about her oldest son, Nathan. The post was such a joy to read, but also made such a valid point about the way our school systems operate today.
Mrs. Brockman wrote, “Anxiety is nothing to play around with, especially for children. As a society, as an educational system we are creating unneeded anxieties for our children. There is so much more to a person that will speak volumes about how they contribute to the world than a test score. The creativity that once was explored on a daily basis has been replaced by multiple choice tests.”
This is so sad and so true. There is so much more to a child than his/her test score. We can only pray that this standardized testing culture we have in our schools today will be done away with. I realize that we have to have a way of assessing our students, but there are so many other ways to assess children, the best of all being forms of authentic assessment.
As teachers, while we cannot do away with standardized testing, we can greatly affect the amount of stress and anxiety we place on our students to do well on these tests. For starters, teachers should never discuss things such as how many students need to pass, how hard the new test is, etc. around students. We don’t want to leave students unprepared or have them underestimate the test, but the students should be worried about one thing and one thing only: doing their best and showing what they know on the assessment. There should be no added pressures to get a certain number right, or anything else.
Teachers should create an anxiety-free culture in their classroom from day. The students should feel comfortable coming to you to talk and know that you will be there to help them out, no matter what the situation. Whatever form of assessment you choose to use during the school year should be approached in a “all I ask is that you do your very best” manner, in hopes of preparing students for end of the year cumulative assessments in the same way. I hope that I can comfort my students and teach them how to tackle the very stressful event of taking end-of-the year tests with the smallest amount of anxiety possible! 🙂
Thank you for the food for thought, Mrs. Brockman.