4 Ways Administrators Can Support Teachers During Testing Season
When the calendar turns to springtime, people everywhere start thinking about warm weather, new beginnings, and enjoying the outdoors. For teachers, however, spring signals the start of what can be a hectic, exhausting, and at times frustrating time of the school year—test season.
As students across the nation begin taking their seats for standardized tests, they do so with the encouragement and support of their teachers. These same teachers have often spent hours of classroom instruction time diligently working to prepare their students for the tests, putting together thoughtful lessons to establish familiarity with content, teaching test-taking strategies, and calming anxieties about sitting for exams. Teachers are the pillars that support students during test season. But who is supporting the teachers?
The need for teacher support during testing
Discussion during faculty meetings and hallway conversations about state assessments and other standardized tests often demonstrate the frustrations teachers feel over mandated testing. From the amount of time that tests take away from genuine classroom instruction to the fear that teachers will be judged based on the performance of their students, test season is a difficult time for teachers across the board.
Principals and other school administrators are in the unique position to support teachers and other school personnel during this time.
Through positive interactions, genuine expressions of care for teachers’ overall well-being, and portrayal of confidence in the school team, administrators can help teachers not only survive but thrive during test season.
Practical ways administrators can support teachers in test season
Here are four ways school administrators can help motivate and support teachers during assessment time.
1. Provide regular reassurance of teachers' worth
The meticulously scheduled and scripted hours of test administration can leave some teachers feeling unable to do the job they signed up for or make valuable connections with students.
It is up to the leadership team to remind teachers of the value they bring, reassuring them through motivating and encouraging discourse that their work matters a great deal to students and to the community—even during testing.
A few ideas for encouragement:
Use data from prior test results to demonstrate how teachers' hard work and dedication has led to an increase in scores.
Share touching stories via email or during meetings that highlight teacher support and student success during assessments.
2. Give the gift of time
Testing puts extra pressure on teachers who can often feel crunched for time as it is. Be mindful of their schedules and take steps to reduce the impact. Prior to the start of testing, be sure to allocate technical training time for teachers who will be administering computer-based assessments.
Consider reducing the number of meetings or rescheduling lower-priority ones to a more suitable date. Ensure coverage for teacher breaks and reassign duties whenever possible to allow for teachers to make up for lost time.
Teachers want to know that school leadership values and respects their time and responsibilities, and simple adjustments can go a long way toward demonstrating this.
3. Ensure communication is clear and prompt
Assessments often bring many changes to the regular school environment. Alterations to schedules, room assignments, duties, and job expectations typically arise during test administration. By clearly communicating these changes to the team, teachers will feel informed and equipped for the changing tides.
As teachers often prepare for classes at least a week (if not more) in advance, it is important to relay any changes to the schedule or task load as soon as possible. Doing so will reduce the amount of stress and frustration related to last-minute notice.
4. Show appreciation for their efforts
Testing can take a toll on teacher morale and enthusiasm, but little tokens of appreciation can go a long way in terms of boosting motivation.
Consider the suggestions below to show support for their hard work:
Surprise teachers with random acts of kindness—cover an extra duty, supply treats in the teachers' lounge, or announce a special after-school snack in a central location.
Send an encouraging email telling them how much you appreciate their work on the front lines during testing.
Bring in a service (such as a local yoga instructor or a massage chair) to help teachers relax after school. Many community members and local businesses are happy to reward the efforts of teachers by donating or discounting their goods or services.
Take time during a scheduled meeting to reiterate support and appreciation for teachers' commitment to student success.
In the rush of spring testing, be sure to not forget about Teacher Appreciation Week, which is the first week of May.
By taking the time to express appreciation and help teachers overcome the challenges and frustrations of testing season, administrators and members of school leadership teams can help foster a community of support within a faculty.
When properly supported, teachers are better equipped to focus on the needs of their students, resulting in a more positive test environment for all involved.
Featured White Paper:
When assessments are properly administered and integrated into instruction, the resulting data can provide valuable information. To be effective, though, teachers and administrators must first understand the purpose of these assessments since they each yield different kinds of data. Read the white paper by Lexia’s Chief Learning Officer, Dr. Liz Brooke, to learn about the types of assessments and how to create a purpose-driven assessment plan.