“I’ve Got to Prepare for the Test” and Other Myths of Learning

When I was a classroom teacher and had a student who was capable of mastering a task but refused to due to boredom/indifference/fear/peer pressure/you-fill-in-the-blank, I would sometimes revert to my track coaching days by using (pardon the colloquialism or cliche) reverse psychology: “You know, you really can’t do this. In fact, why not just give it up?” I didn’t do this with every student, but if I knew them well enough and knew this was a safe action, I knew their anger would propel them, if not rocket them, into proving me wrong. They’d furrow their eyebrows, glare at me, and say, “WATCH me!” And sure enough, they attacked that invisible wall with gusto and conquered the invisible beast.

I thought of this scenario as I did a Building Sweep today visiting classrooms. If I hadn’t helped teach or prepare resources for the teacher in quite awhile, I’d ask, “Why haven’t I been in here for a long time?” Invariably, I could almost mouth the words before they were spoken: “I’ve got to prepare for the test (either Benchmark or SOL) and don’t have any time.” Sometimes the expressions were crazed as a result of extreme stress (think: AYP, Pass Rates, ad infinitum).

I don’t have any time.

Who does?

As hours are finite and we can’t extend them, a solutions need to be found. Have you marginalized? That is, as Dr. Richard Swenson says: “Marginless is not having time to finish the book you’re reading on stress…Marginless is the disease of our decade and margin is the cure.” If your life is a piece of paper, is it a margin one inch on all sides, or is it to the outer edge and words spilling over? How can you bring margin into your classroom?

Today in Mrs. Austin’s room, after coteaching and finishing a lesson to review money, two students gave me a hug and said, “Thanks for coming in.” Students were engaged partly because of 21st Century style learning (the other part for great classroom management).

Take some time, put some margin into your day, kick back and watch some thought provoking videos:

A Vision of K-12 Students Today

Pay Attention [digital learners]

As you wade through the rapid currents of stress, look up and reach for your TRT’s hand–why carry the burden alone and by yourself?

2 thoughts on ““I’ve Got to Prepare for the Test” and Other Myths of Learning

  1. “Marginless” definitely describes the daily lives of teachers…unending text from top to bottom, side to side, and drifting off into a blackhole. Taming the beast and putting margins back in one’s life is a daunting, but necessary task to limit frustration, regain control, and increase efficiency. With the right techie tools, teachers are poised to master their tasks and reset their page margins.

  2. Sometimes to teach to the test you must think outside the box. Does technology take more time than text, sometimes but if you only need to teach it this way once and the kids get it, then you are saved additional time down the road. The only problem is sometimes technology doesn’t cooperate but if it doesn’t you always have those text type things to fall back on!
    I wish I had my MCPS back again! 🙂

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