“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?

Are You Feeling Alone in Your Classroom?

The morning bell rings, kids are all nestled in their desks ready for learning, you close your door, turn around to face your class, and all of a sudden, do you feel alone? Have you ever said, “Oh, if I could only have some help?” Do you feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders and wish somebody could take up the slack and carry the burden with you?

One of my colleagues, Nancy Butler, has written a wonderful post about the help that’s there for teachers and staff, ready to be taken advantage of! Here’s how you can develop your PLN and make your days a little easier: table-pln-10gifts In fact, the first person from OB and JT that leaves a comment will get an extra goodie in their stocking!

Ten Ways for a Teacher’s Stress to Go Down

Economic crisis. Stocks plummet. Layoffs. AYP at 85%. SOL testing. 4.5 week benchmark testing. 9 week benchmark testing. Track your remediation. Grade papers. Half the class doesn’t do homework. 36 students in your class, and the principal brings a new student to your door. I don’t understand Gradebook. Need I say more?

Situations won’t be changed by negative attitudes. Although it’s important not to hide feelings, the delivery method of your feelings can run your colleagues’ outlook into a brick wall at 90 MPH. Eventually, the students suffer. Scores plummet. It’s a vicious cycle. What does one do?

Maybe it’s me, but I was never one to get nervous with other adults in my classroom. In fact, I coveted assistance in my room regardless of who you were, from superintendent to principal to Board member. Just last week, Mrs. Meents told me, after we had been working together in the lab all day, “Wow–this day was so nice and fun and went so fast!” So, with that in mind, I came up with a top ten list of how to lower your stress. Here are some suggestions on making your day easier.:

(10) Using the passcode for Discovery Education Streaming given to you in September, open an account, and start using their online Quiz Builder. Confused? See your TRT. Olive Branch: you’re being trained on November 4.
(9) Plan a lesson with your TRT and coteach together. Two heads are so much better than one!
(8) Check out a data projector and have a lesson review with online activities. Need ideas? Check the Rockingham link to your right.
(7) Track behavior issues on an Excel sheet and see if there is a pattern. Does it peek at a certain time of the day? I have made a Behavior Chart template if you’d like to see how to begin.
(6) Are your PowerPoints needing perked up?
(5) Instead of a worksheet, how about making a template on Kidspiration 3 and having the students print it off afterwards?
(4) When’s the last time you used a C.O.W.? Vary instruction with hands-on activities.
(3) Have a good hearty laugh with your class at least once a day.
(2) Find something positive to say to students on what they do right.
(1) Start each Monday with a five minute class discussion about the weekend. Take an SOL break! Did something go on in their lives that they’d like to share?

I’m interested in seeing what ideas you have. If you wish to make a comment, if you look in the blue bar above, you’ll see “No comments” or “# of comments.” Click on that and add to the discussion!