Friday, October 30, 2015

Day 40: Quotes

Student: "Mr. Aion, do I have to take this test? I don't know this stuff."

Student: "How am I supposed to know this?"
Me: "This material comes from the notes that we cover in class, the discussions that we've had and, since I know you have trouble getting up in the morning, they are up on the school website."
Student: "I'm not doing all that."

Student: "I wasn't paying attention during the review. Why do I have to take this?"

Student: "Mr. Aion, what's the answer to number 34?"
Me: "This is an assessment of your knowledge. Put down what you THINK it is?"
Student: "You're the teacher! You're supposed to tell me the answers.  It's in my IEP."

Me: "Could you please stop talking, other student are taking the test."
Student: "Everyone else is dancing and singing!" (No one was)
Me: "Will you come into the hall and talk to me for a second so we don't disturb the class?"
Student: "No." (gathers things and walks out)

None of these are atypical behaviors and I'm not sure how to address them.  I make my test expectations very clear and I ask my students politely to abide by them.  I explain that they need to respect the testing environment of other students.  We talk about how test day is NOT the day to say that you don't understand.  The reason that I do review days is so that they can ask for help then.

Responsibility is a huge issue, not just for many of my students, but everywhere.  I think I would be hard pressed to find a teacher who hasn't heard at least one of the above lines.

I've written before about the fine line between support and enabling and how I have tremendous difficulty knowing where that line is.

This, however, seems fairly clear cut to me.  If you feel unready to take an assessment, once that assessment has been handed out isn't really the best time to say so.

It seems a bit like declaring your fear of skydiving after you've already left the plane.  There was plenty of opportunity to back out before you find yourself in the air.
"WAIT! I slept through the safety demo!!"

I understand some of the causes and reasoning behind this.  I don't think we do a good enough job teaching students about how to prepare for assessments in general, study skills, how to ask questions, how to know which questions to ask, etc.

There is a pervasive fear of failure that is a huge problem.  There's a solid mentality of "if I can't do something like a pro, I'm not going to try."

It's better to have given up before you start than to look stupid in front of your peers.

As a proponent of growth mindset, I know the dangers of this, but I'm not sure how to encourage my students to keep trying.  As it is, they know that if they don't like their scores, they can retake the assessments.  The idea is that this will cause lower pressure, but it seems to translate to kids not studying, or even remembering that they have a test.

"I don't need to study. If I mess it up, I'll just take it again."

Except that they don't.  The kids who are most vocal with that strategy NEVER come to retake tests.  Or they wait weeks and forget what we talked about at all.

I can't take ownership over their decisions. I can only encourage.  I can provide support for both successes and failures.

Me: **hands out test**
**4 minutes later**
Student: "I'm done."
**2 minutes later**
Same student: "We can do retakes, right?"


  1. That sucks.
    And it'll suck again next year.
    Your focus on encouragement and support is solid.
    More on that here.

  2. I completely agree with this comment: "The kids who are most vocal with that strategy NEVER come to retake tests. Or they wait weeks and forget what we talked about at all." It's the same in my class.

    The best thing I did was last year when I gave everyone who failed a quiz (we did a quiz every week) a "study plan sheet" where they had to say how they were going to study every night and have a parent or another teacher sign the document saying they studied. If they didn't bring the sheet back signed, then I got in touch with home.

    Of course, this all depends on parental support, and those students typically have the least supportive parents.

    I haven't tried that this year because I have so much other stuff on my plate, but I need to start doing that again. Maybe next semester...

    Thanks for the post!


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