Collaborating, learning, and supporting the coaching process in underserved districts.

Beat the Testing Season Blues as an Instructional Coach

Beat the Testing Season Blues as an Instructional Coach

The testing season has come. The joyful excitement of standardized tests is felt throughout the building. The unboxing of answer sheets, testing tickets, checking rosters twice has the whole school jumping for joy! Who am I kidding? If we are honest with ourselves as professionals, this is our least favorite time of the year. This time of year brings about a lull that is felt all throughout the building.
There are many reasons that testing season gives us the blues, but as as a coach, it’s important that we do not get sucked into the negative testing culture that can occur this time of year. So as an Instructional Coach, what do you do for that not to happen? What do you do to calm the negative feelings that surround teachers during this time of year? I’m going to provide some tips that will help to turn those feelings around. These tips will help to release some of that pressure on teachers and yourself.

Tip #1: Stay Positive
Your positive attitude will hopefully rub off on teachers. It will be a transference of energy. This is not the time to go in classes and heavily critique. Most teachers are internally critiquing themselves. This is the time to motivate, help when needed and work together as a team to prepare for the big test! Teachers are relying on your positive energy, your help and expertise, even when they don’t say it.

Tip #2: Remind teachers to make test prep fun
Just as the teachers are stressed, so are their students. Give tips, ideas and resources to make test prep fun for teachers and students. The review of PowerPoints and skill-n-drill isn’t effective teaching, students don’t retain the information, and it is just plain boring. This type of test prep can actually increase stress rather than decrease it. Plus, unwanted behaviors might increase because of the lack of engagement. Remind teachers to keep the engagement up for their students, give them ideas to create a theme, make a game, etc., and make it fun for students.

Tip #3: Plan a Pep Rally
Just about a week before the test, plan a pep rally to get students (and teachers) excited about showing what they know rather than focusing on what they don’t know. Remind students of testing strategies they should be using during the test through song or call and response. Have teachers of each grade level to create a song or cheer to perform for their students. (The students love this!) This is a time to pump up the testing culture in a positive way! Have a good time and beat the test!

Tip #4: Get everyone involved
For the grade levels that may not be testing, have those grade levels make signs, posters, and notes giving words of encouragement to their peers. This helps to build that positive culture amongst students as well. But don’t stop at students, have teachers also write notes to the teachers of those grade levels as well. Make it fun and keep that positive momentum going! This will help to create that culture and change some of the negative mindsets that surround testing.

Tip #5: Be flexible
During this time of year your job title will be iridescent. You will have many job titles because you will be needed in a variety places, spaces, areas, and classrooms. This is the time to pull out your flexibility hat and own it. It’s important to realize that being a team player is what helps to continue that positive testing culture you’ve been striving for. You are part of the culture. So get out your flexibility hat and positivity pants and put them on.

Testing season may not be our favorite season, but it’s coming and we can’t escape it.  Instead of embracing the negative parts of this season, let’s get that glass half full mindset. Let that mindset permeate throughout your building and beat the testing blues!

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