Testing, of course, is a big reason for much of the stress in today’s classrooms. Stress is not conducive to learning. Dr. William Stixrud summed it up quite nicely when he wrote, "stress hormones actually turn off the parts of the brain that allow us to focus attention, understand ideas, commit information to memory and reason critically." Not a whole lot of learning going on when that happens. It's darn hard to think straight when your system is poised for fight-or-flight.
Testing, of course, is a big reason for much of the stress in today’s classrooms.
Cheryl Mizerny says
Test anxiety affects students from all walks of life and all ability levels. In an ideal world, teachers would be in a position to completely eliminate classroom testing in favor of other, more performance-based assessments, but this is just not the reality at this point in time. Therefore, a best practice all teachers can implement is fair and compassionate testing practices. If the students realize that one classroom test is not going to completely change their world, they will be able to have a better perspective. It all starts with a student-centered classroom culture that celebrates learning, not grades.
Heather Wolpert-Gawron agrees that “helping students to own the classroom … helps to decrease stress.”
To that end, she recommends promoting “different ways to help students manage time and have access to assignments.” She adds
While I now produce checklists that reflect the quarter, I also break things down into smaller chunks by providing weekly agendas online that students always have access to. I also email students with tomorrow's agenda as a little intro about what's to come. It's good to address the needs of the kids who need to see the bigger picture as well as those who get overwhelmed by the bigger picture!
Here’s an article Heather wrote, titled “Middle School Nuts and Bolts: Intro to Time Management: http://tweenteacher.com/2010/08/28/middle-school-nuts-and-bolts-intro-to-time-management/.
I also recommend listening to an earlier BAM interview called “Ten Ways to Make Test Prep Fun.” (Yes, my panelists absolutely believed this was possible and made some great recommendations.) You can listen to it here: http://www.bamradionetwork.com/teachers-aid/1871-ten-ways-to-make-test-prep-fun