It is NAPLAN* week here in Australia where every student in year 3, 5, 7 and 9 sit national tests. To say these are disliked by the students would be a gross understatement. To say the tests are seen as irrelevant by teachers would be close to the truth (why else would they be lampooned as NAPALM tests?!). And I know the media will be preparing for their annual feeding frenzy reporting on results and statistics that tend to enflame emotions.
For my Middle Years students, this time of testing (this ‘testing time’) is nothing new. They have sat them before. They have been preparing with their teachers for some time now – often to the point of being well and truy sick and tired of the process and the content.
We’ve made it clear to our students that these tests are just one test on one day and not the be-all-and-end-all of their learning. By all means, we want them to do well but not at the expense of their emotional health.
This video, “I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate.”, puts our feelings about NAPLAN into sharp focus.
So, what can we do to maintain a proper focus during the next three days? One thing I’m excited about is the fact that our Hospitality students will be blessing our Middle Years kids with a special morning tea today – some muffins (cupcakes) baked especially for them. I’m trusting that the kids will feel that they are being thought of by the other students in our school.
I think it is important to realise that, for these early adolescents, the amount of mental energy needed to sit these exams is enormous. I’m encouraging teachers at my school to provide plenty of physical, brain-less-ish activities for the kids each afternoon; to play some music, allow them to chat, to provide some hands-on activities. All of this can still be related to the subject and unit of study but remain sensitive to the emotional and energy needs of the students. It is about finding a balance between understanding our students and providing appropriate forms of continuing education.
What are you doing in your school to support students (and teachers) through this time of testing?
*National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy