4 Tips for Teachers to Avoid End-of-the-Year Negativity

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 -- Scott Sterling

One of the educational calendar’s cruelest tricks is that before we can get to that blissful summer countdown, most schools have to make it through stressful spring testing. Perhaps because the good times are so close, yet so far away, the seeds of negativity can easily take root. Here’s four tips to nip that end-of-the-year pessimism in the bud:

Prepare, don’t cram

As you probably remember from your own days as a student, cramming before a big test can be just as stressful as the test itself. Now that you’re sitting at the head of the classroom, try to pass that wisdom on to your learners.

There comes a point where the students simply have run out of time for new content. Depending on your states’ testing schedule, that time may have already arrived. Instead, focus students on preparing for the test day itself. If your testing is online, run them through the demo software. Spend some time on relaxation, stretching, and other exercises they can do in their seats on test day. This sort of test prep has a trickle-down effect for you as well.

Talk to your administration about online proctoring training

A week or so before testing, teachers are usually ushered into a meeting where they receive the latest training about proctoring their state’s test. This meeting tends to be a den of negativity. The veteran teachers have heard the warnings and guide lines before, so they get bored, and rookie teachers tend to feel more than a little intimidated by the laundry list of official requirements. And, anyone who has negative opinions about testing (which is most teachers) tend to feel compelled to voice them—even though it doesn’t change anything.

Make the experience better by seeing if there is some way this meeting can be conducted online at your own pace. Of course, there has to be some way to keep the teachers accountable for the training, but an online format can help keep negativity at bay.

Stay out of the teachers’ lounge

Your fellow teachers can be an awesome source of support, but sometimes, you identify a little too closely with one another’s challenges. Spend too much time hanging out in the teachers’ lounge talking to coworkers frustrated by the exact same things as you, and you may find it’s fueling the cycles of negative thinking. Be mindful of the break time conversations you’re engaging in, make an effort to seek out upbeat colleagues, and do your best to keep collaborative time from becoming extended (and unproductive) vent sessions.

Don’t forget to keep celebrating success

Whether you (and your students) are feeling cool and collected or behind the game when it comes to test prep efforts, don’t forget to keep up with positive reinforcement strategies. Students who receive praise leading up to test day will be at least a little less anxious than those who have been under constant pressure for the last few weeks. If anything, increase the positive reinforcement you provide during the review process.

Looking for additional tips to keep the vibe positive in your school? Check out these four Easy, Cost-Effective Strategies to Boost Teacher Morale!