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Making Your School Culture Pay Dividends During Testing Season

Making Your School Culture Pay Dividends During Testing Season

Good school leaders invest a lot of time and resources into creating a culture of learning that generates an environment that everyone, from students to staff to food service, wants to come to every day. During no other time are those investments tested more than the testing period.

But that is exactly when your investments should pay off. Here are ways to make sure your school’s culture shows through even during the most stressful weeks of the school year.

Greet the students with enthusiasm

Before every sporting event, someone announces the starting lineup with fanfare, pyrotechnics, and applause—all of which designed to generate excitement and establish a temporary culture for the game. Many schools have adopted the same technique for the first day of school (minus the fireworks).

But in the life of a student who has trained for months, testing time is game time. A hearty greeting for every student before testing can fill them with a belief they wouldn’t have felt otherwise. Enlist everyone you can, from parents to the mail person, to help you welcome your athletes to their arena.

Notes of affirmation

The best teachers are masters at making every student feel valued every day, but that can be a challenge during the crazy scheduling of the testing period. However, it doesn’t take much time to read a Post-It note.

Before the test, have your teachers write every student a brief note of encouragement and then find a way for the students to receive them before testing. The content can range from the affirmative (“You’ve got this!”) to offering non-academic advice (“Remember to breathe”). Every student will feel noticed.

Take time for something (anything) else

Students cannot escape during testing season. They spend class time in preparation. Parents ask about it instead of a greeting. Even the local news will run stories complete with stock footage of eager students bouncing into school (taken earlier in the year). By the end, they feel like robots.

Take time they would have used for last-minute cramming or running movies after a testing period and guide the students in worthwhile activities that can help inside the testing room and out, such as relaxation techniques, stretching exercises, and visualization. You make better use of that time and students have time to reconnect with their classmates and teachers.

Looking for more tips on how to achieve success as a district administrator? Check out these 10 essential skills every superintendent needs!