We all know that there are four seasons in nature. However, there are 5 seasons of education. Each one is filled with excitement and unique challenges.
One of the most important seasons in education is summer! Summer is the time educators decompress, rest, rejuvenate, plan, prepare, and overall recharge their batteries to get ready for the start of the next school year. Summer is a time for students, parents, teachers, and administrators to get away from the daily grind of going to school Monday through Friday. Summer is the season in education where everything old gets the opportunity to become new again.
The new school year starts and quickly it moves into the Fall season for education. Fall is when everyone is still fresh from their summer break, ready to teach and learn. Fall is wonderful, as there are some nice breaks like Labor Day, Halloween, Fall Break, and Thanksgiving. Fall tends to fly by rather quickly with things like football and Marching Band every Friday night. Everyone settles into their routines, ready to go for the first semester.
Winter starts off at full speed. It is a very short span from Thanksgiving to Winter Break. It is filled with teachers trying to make sure all standards are covered, assessments are given, and there is time to prepare for Final Exams at the higher grade levels. There are holiday programs for the vocal and instrumental classes. Boys and Girls Basketball season is in full swing. Students are wrapping up the semester and completing all the work. Teachers are completing all their grading needed to post final first semester grades. Educators and students alike are ready for a nice Winter Break.
The new semester begins in the heart of Winter. The short break allows everyone to get back into their routines for teaching and learning. Everyone is working hard after the short respite of the two weeks off. Educators and students alike get ready for the long march to Spring and the coming of Spring Break. Daylight hours are short. The weather is cold and bitter. Overall, this is the time of year when everyone slowly goes into hang on mode waiting for the season to turn to Spring.
The days get longer and longer. Winter sports wrap up. Educators’ patience starts to wear thin. The final sport season begins with Track and Field, Baseball, and Softball all starting and moving into full swing. Students’ work ethic may suffer a little due to the long grind of the school year. Seniors see the light at the end of the tunnel and Senioritis starts to creep in and take hold. Everyone gets into “Hang-on” mode waiting for the Spring season to finally arrive.
The Fifth Season
Everyone has been through Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring. Many would think, this is the last season of the school year. It isn’t! Now is the time every educator must prepare for the fifth season of the school year!
What is the fifth season you ask? It is Assessment Season! This is when educators must be at their best and follow some very important and simple rules for students to do their very best during all the assessments that happen during this season.
There are a few anomalies that happen throughout the school year, like snow in May or a 75° day in November. Some assessments happen throughout the year, but the vast majority of the high stakes standardized assessments tend to happen between Spring Break and the end of the school year. Students take the SAT Assessment for all Juniors, WIDA, IREAD3, I AM, ILEARN, AP Exams, and Final Exams just to name a few. This time of year is when parents’ and teachers’ attitudes and actions can make or break student performance on all these assessments.
Emotions are Contagious
The quote by Lao Tzu comes to mind for all educators.
If, as educators, we get frustrated and display that frustration by talking negatively about all the assessments that must be given during this fifth season, it will have a negative impact on the performance of their students. Please understand I am not saying we must be jubilant about all the standardized tests that are given this time of year. I am saying we must be very careful about telling students how we feel! Remember, students are just as stressed about all the assessments as we are. Openly talking negatively or expressing our very appropriate negative feelings about all the tests students must take does no one any good and can only diminish outcomes.
What must happen during this fifth season is, Educators must become cheerleaders for the students. As educators, we must encourage and reassure students that they CAN do well and succeed on the myriad of assessments they must take. As much as everyone thinks that students know how to do their very best on these assessments, educators must take every opportunity to reassure and remind students exactly what it takes to do their very best on all the assessments they must take during the Assessment Season.
Educators must remind students of the simple ways they can improve their scores and do their very best. As crazy as it sounds, teachers must go over the basic facts for doing well.
Here are some of the most basic and important Test Taking Skills:
Get a good night’s sleep the night(s) before the assessment.
Eat a good breakfast the morning of the assessment.
Make sure you have the proper tools required to take the assessment, #2 pencils, eraser, scrap paper, and a calculator they are familiar with if they are allowed.
Use the restroom before the test begins.
Listen to and follow all instructions.
Take your time and read each question and/or passage carefully.
Remember to breathe and take a second to relax on a regular basis.
As crazy as it sounds, wiggle or shift in your seat once in a while.
Remember test taking skills like ruling out possibilities, make your best guess, answer all questions, work backwards when appropriate.
Think positive and remind yourself “You Can Do Well” on the test.
If everyone reminds and encourages students to do these simple things students’ scores will be the best they can be. It is a group effort and all educators need to participate and do their part helping students. It is amazing how even a little negativity can have a major impact on students’ achievements.
Educators should remind students how to prepare for the assessments. Remind students not to cram for the test. A little studying each day, over a few days, will do much more than hours right before the test. Have students write down or discuss everything they know about the assessment and what will be on the assessment. This is an excellent way to prepare for an assessment. Have students share what they have written and discussed with their classmates. This will do far more to prepare the students than just telling them what is on the assessment. Be a cheerleader for the students. Tell them they CAN work the problems and CAN do well on the assessment. It is extremely important to be positive, reassure students, and celebrate successes students’ have had throughout the year. By reminding students they are prepared and have the skills they need to be successful, you will make a significant difference for improving how your students will perform on the assessments.
As much as ALL educators dislike this fifth season, your attitude and approaches will make a difference. Just like you need to remind your students, this is a friendly reminder from me that YOU can make a difference by doing the little details to help students do their very best during this fifth and final season of the school year.