Student Test Taking Anxiety is 99% on Us

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I have heard the horror stories about students freaking out for STAAR.  And I don’t doubt them and here is the reason why. Starting at the beginning of the Spring Semester and continuing until the day of the test, teachers and administrators get more and more stressed out about the test.  The stakes are high, there is too much to teach and we have reams of data showing us that we aren’t anywhere close to having our students ready.  And we transmit and transfer all of that stress straight to our students.  Show me stressed students and I’ll show you adults wound tighter than clocks springs and doing a poor job of hiding it.

That’s the key, we have to mask our stress, stay in positive character and keep the classroom nurturing and rewarding.  I’ll give you two examples of what this looks like in other settings. 

The Disney Cast: At Disneyland, when the cast is in the park, they are always in character. It is the happiest place on Earth.  But behind the scenes, Mickey smokes, Goofy doesn’t like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty is on an improvement plan. And not one guest is aware of any of this. Always stay in positive character while students are in the building.

The Coaching Staff of the Underdog:  The coaches know that they are outmanned, that their team is too small and too slow to compete with the team on the schedule this week. For this coaching staff, a win will be to escape with no injuries.  But that is in the Coaches’ Office.  The players have no idea how dire the situation is.  What they know is that they have a good game plan and if they work hard as a team, execute the plan and don’t turn over the ball they will probably win. Always keep the focus on the positive outcome of executing the plan.

That is our job, stay in character and project confident optimism.  When I hear the test taking anxiety horror stories I think back on a student at an exceedingly high performing Title One school explaining why no one was freaking out about the upcoming state test. “Why should we be worried, we have hope.”

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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