The Key to Testing Season: Your School Culture

Apr 08, 2024
Testing season Edmentum article

Good school leaders invest a lot of time and resources into creating a culture of learning that generates an environment that everyone, from students to staff to food service, wants to come to every day. During no other time are those investments tested more than the testing season, but that is exactly when your investments should pay off. 

Amidst the pressures of testing season, nurturing a vibrant school culture becomes crucial to support students and staff alike. Here are ways to make sure your school’s culture shows through, even during the most stressful weeks of the school year.

Greet the Students with Enthusiasm During Testing Season

Before every sporting event, someone announces the starting lineup with fanfare, pyrotechnics, and applause—all of which are designed to generate excitement and establish a temporary culture for the game. Many schools have adopted the same technique for the first day of school (minus the fireworks).

But in the life of a student who has trained for months, testing season is game time.

A hearty greeting for every student before testing can fill them with a belief they wouldn’t have felt otherwise. Enlist everyone you can, from parents to the mail person, to help you welcome your athletes to their arena.

Notes of Affirmation, Especially During Testing Season

The best teachers are masters at making every student feel valued every day, but that can be a challenge during the crazy scheduling of the testing season.

However, it doesn’t take much time to read a Post-It note.

Before the test, have your teachers write every student a brief note of encouragement and then find a way for the students to receive them before the testing season.

The content can range from the affirmative (“You’ve got this!”) to offering non-academic advice (“Remember to breathe”). Tailor each note to the individual student, acknowledging their unique strengths, efforts, and aspirations. Address them by name and highlight specific qualities or accomplishments that demonstrate their capabilities.

Remind them of their resilience, determination, and ability to overcome challenges. Every student will feel noticed.

Celebrate Achievements and Progress

Testing season is an important time to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements and progress of students, both academically and personally. Share ideas for organizing recognition ceremonies, awarding certificates of achievement, and publicly acknowledging student accomplishments to foster a sense of pride and motivation. Highlight specific examples of growth, effort, perseverance, or acts of kindness that demonstrate their dedication and commitment to their academic goals.

Promote Self-Care and Wellness

During testing season, prioritizing self-care and wellness is paramount for both students and educators. Encouraging regular breaks, mindfulness exercises, and relaxation techniques can help alleviate test stress and prevent burnout. Educators should model healthy habits and emphasize the importance of maintaining a balanced lifestyle, including adequate sleep, nutrition, and physical activity. Providing opportunities for students to engage in activities that promote relaxation and emotional well-being, such as guided meditation, journaling, or yoga, can empower them to manage stress effectively and perform at their best.

Take Time for Something (Anything) Else

Students cannot escape during testing season. They spend class time in preparation. Parents ask about it instead of a greeting. Even the local news will run stories complete with stock footage of eager students bouncing into school (taken earlier in the year). By the end, they feel like robots.

Take time they would have used for last-minute cramming or running movies after testing season and guide the students in worthwhile activities that can help inside the testing room and out, such as relaxation techniques, stretching exercises, and visualization. You make better use of that time, and students have time to reconnect with their classmates and teachers.

By prioritizing a resilient school culture grounded in support, encouragement, and holistic well-being, educators can navigate testing season with positivity and empower students to perform their best while feeling valued and supported.

Looking for more tips on how to achieve success as a district administrator? Check out these 10 essential skills every superintendent needs.

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