As a first year teacher, the pressure and stress that comes along with the CRCT is somewhat overwhelming. I try to keep the whole thing into perspective, but I do worry for my students. I feel like I’m taking it right along with them.
Recently, I sought the advice of a retired educator and family member who had great success with CRCT results from her students. Her advice to me was to focus on test anxiety. I thought her advice was useful, because I know as a student I also had pretty intense test anxiety. I researched various techniques, but I really didn’t find much. Then, I decided to try a brainstorm session in my special needs class one day. The following is what we came up with…
Step One: Eliminate- Mark out two letters that are incorrect answers (A, B, C, or D)
Step Two: Evaluate- Go back and investigate the passage or problem
Step Three: Instinctuate- (A made up word, but they loved it!) If evaluating fails, then use your gut– trust your instinct
Think Alouds: We practiced reading and marking through passages as we read, annotate important facts, dates in the margins, and discussed the importance of reading the beginning sentence and last sentence, while skimming the rest.
Visualization: We practiced a technique that I use before standardized tests, which is to visualize all the right answers just coming forward, almost like the right answers just zoom to my attention, while the wrong ones fade into the background.
Breath deep and take your time: We also practiced breathing deeply, and to think calm thoughts knowing that there is 70 minutes to answer 25 questions.
Positive Self Talk: I love the slogan by coach Tony Horton (also known as the creator of P90X). He always preaches, “Do you best, and forget the rest!” My students and I had discussions on what it means to do your best, and what the rest is–the rest is all that junk– known as negative self talk! “I can’t do this. I’m going to fail. This is just too hard!” I told my students as soon as those thoughts came into their heads they must immediately say to themselves, “No, go away, you ugly thoughts. Mrs. Farmer told me I will exceed on this test. I will succeed!”
Anxiety: Sometimes when students get in the testing environment, they freeze. Whatever review teachers have done is suddenly worthless. A student’s mind goes blank, and they rush through the test, hoping the pain will just end! Well, my students and I discussed this as well. I told them, that is when they need to take a deep breath and use the system: eliminate, evaluate, and instintuate. If all else fails–use the system and it will carry you through the test. Side note: Several students told me that the system was helping them in all their classes as they reviewed over the last two weeks.
On Friday, the first day of testing, I was so proud of my students. All the homeroom teachers told me how they took their time on the test, and they noticed that they were using the system as well as marking through the passages, and annotating in the margins. Students remarked that they seemed pleased with the test and felt confident. Of course, their results on the test are still to be determined, but their ability to feel confident during the test means the world to me. My goal will always be for my students to do their best–and forget the rest!