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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Promoting a love of learning during high-stakes testing season

Promoting a love of learning during high-stakes testing season

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Hi everyone,

This great question just came to us through Facebook from a teacher named Mia:

"I feel like I am losing the engaging and exciting teacher I used to be and want to be in the current testing season. The stress and expectations are taking their toll on admin which trickles down to us, which trickles down to our students and then blows up in our face via behaviors and lack of motivation. Our students aren't taking the test seriously (even in a high-stakes year) and I don't want to resort to scare-tactics because I feel like test anxiety is already rampant... but the pressure from above is mounting. How can you motivate scholars to do their best on a rigourous, high-stakes test while still promoting a love of learning?"

What do you think? Any tips for Mia? I'll make sure to share your responses with her.

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Holly Willis's picture
Holly Willis
Former Social Media Marketing Assistant at Edutopia

To get the conversation started, I asked our Twitter followers for their suggestions. Here are just a few of the tips we got:

- JC: specific and constant praise for the ongoing hard work and encouragement to keep it going just a little longer

- Eric: Standardized test prep doesn't need to be a drag. Bring play in: edut.to/ZN8CIo #mschat #midleved #edchat #ccss

- Just: What I usually do is to set a special funny and cultural acrivity for the last day, so they release stress and keep working.

Jeanie Greenidge's picture

Honesty. You must be honest and authentic with your students right now. They must know what's at stake but also know that this test is flawed in that it does not measure what matters - I believe that this ambiguity is something that our students must be aware of. It is a dilemma for teachers who became teachers to improve the lives of our students and find ourselves straddling the expectations of our administration - to improve student achievement on these assessments and to keep stoking their curiosity as learners. Share this dilemma with them. Ask that teacher heart that you so obviously have, "What is the best I can do for my students?" If the answer is teach to the test - than so be it. If the answer is disregard the implications of this assessment - then so be it, too. Hold on to that passion that led you to the profession. Talk with supportive colleagues. Hold your students in high regard - they need you more than ever.

WiseLearners's picture

Promoting it DURING high stakes testing is going to be difficult, but I've got two amazing resources to share with you, that when used consistently together, have provided me with AMAZING results!

The first is helping kids become failure proof. Failure is a part of life, but how we capitalize on the opportunities it presents vary wildly!
http://wiselearners.blogspot.com/2013/04/how-to-make-your-child-failure-...

The second is an article I came across on NEA Today and it again, is absolutely on track. It hits right at the heart of motivation and how our encouraging words can sometimes sabotage our very own intentions. The achievement disparity shown in the study cited are jaw dropping. http://www.nea.org/home/42298.htm

Again, I've used these both in conjunction with every type (and age) of learner you can imagine (including all exceptionalities). I'm obsessed with brain-based learning (my kids are special needs) and these two practices work together like peanut butter and chocolate. =)

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