How to Stay Sane During Exam Week

navigator_testprep imageEvery year we offer advice to our students on how to best prepare for the state exams they’re faced with in the spring.  What we may not think about, though, is how we can best prepare ourselves to make it through the tests. With that in mind, we’ve put together some reminders to help you breeze through the testing process.

1. Follow your own advice!

There are some simple instructions we give students that are easy to follow and help them come to school prepared for test-taking day. Don’t forget that this advice will help you get through the week as well—get a good night’s sleep, eat a good breakfast, you know the drill! (Not to mention that it’s always a good idea to set a positive example for your students.)

2. Try to make it fun.

This is for your students, but for yourself as well. If you can think of a way to make the test preparations bearable—even (gasp!) fun—you’ll enjoy it a lot more as well. Make each lesson a game and help everyone keep a good attitude.

If the weather allows for it, consider doing some test prep outside or in another area of the school for a change of scenery. The new environment will make the test preparations less monotonous.

3. Collaborate with colleagues.

It’s important to have support systems—people who know what you’re experiencing. It’s also important to keep these groups positive. Take a few minutes to talk about the negatives and what frustrates you about testing, but spend most of your time sharing tips and supporting one another.

4.  Use testing as an opportunity to teach about civic responsibility.

Hearing a lot of complaining from your students about testing? Fair enough, but instead of letting it get you down or ignoring it, make this an opportunity to empower your students to get involved with issues that are important to them. Explain that testing is used to help decide how to improve schools. Hold an informal discussion with your class and brainstorm other ways schools and learning could be made better and more engaging. Consider a class project in which the group writes a respectful letter to state officials and proposes the adoption of some of their ideas.

5. Minimize testing anxiety for yourself and your students.

Did you know stress and anxiety can be contagious? Your students will look to you, their experienced and knowledgeable teacher, to help guide them through the testing process. If they see (or feel) that you’re frazzled and frantic, they’re likely to display those reactions themselves. Practice 3-5 minutes of body or breathing exercises that you and your students can do at your desks. Here are some video resources demonstrate a couple of options:

What gets you through standardized tests with your sanity intact? Share your tips below!

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