A System of No Surprises

Almost every sitcom involving kids has at least one episode with a nightmare dream sequence or major freak-out related to a big test. (Think “Full House”, “The Cosby Show”, “Modern Family”, “Parenthood”). Anxiety over driver’s license exams and the SAT are common ones, and I’m sure you can think of a few examples yourself. Last year, as student teacher, I saw some of this worry in my own students and can definitely relate on a personal level – it hasn’t been that long since I was on their side of the desks.

Right now, students across Ohio are taking assessments – from high-stakes standardized assessments, to assessments that you and your team have created to reflect learning over the course of instruction. Either way, it’s normal for you and your students to feel a little bit of anxiety around this time of year.

If you think back to whichever sitcom came to mind, the takeaway was probably along these lines: the best way to calm nerves related to an assessment is to remember how prepared you are. I can recall that I felt most prepared for assessments when my teachers reassured me that there wouldn’t be any surprises when it came to test time. For example, my AP Spanish teacher, Senora Long, thoroughly prepared me for the exam, and even though I knew it would be difficult, I treated it as an opportunity to “show off” the things she taught me (gracias Senora!). My teachers worked so hard to prepare me, and they encouraged me to feel confident and ready to tackle the assessments in front of me.

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If you've begun implementing FIP with fidelity, you've taken the time to deconstruct standards, create and share clear learning targets, collect and use evidence of learning, provide effective feedback, and cultivate ownership that collectively work to move your learners forward and prepare them for future learning. Essentially, you've worked this year to create a system of no surprises for your students. They aren't going to encounter anything that you haven’t prepared them for as they are asked to show off what they have learned. You and your students have worked hard this year, and can rest easy knowing that you are all ready to handle whatever summative assessments come your way.

It’s a great time of year to reassure students that they are fully prepared to handle these tests, exams, and projects. And that you have prepared them for their next year of learning as well. So as you’re getting ready to head into summer, don’t forget to remind your students how much they have grown as learners this year. Inspire the same confidence, readiness, and reflection that you have in your students all year, and be prepared to watch them shine.