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Classroom Management to Minimize Test Stress

Janelle Cox

Is it possible to use classroom management to minimize your students’ stress level during testing time? For decades, students have been expected to sit for hours upon hours with little or no breaks during testing. But according to recent research, we now know that we’re not wired to sit for extended periods of time. Experts have found that being too sedentary is actually harmful, and that we learn better when we are moving. We’ve also discovered that students learn best with brain breaks throughout the school day. Brain breaks are quick classroom management pauses for your brain to help you relax and refocus. As we embark on testing time this school year, here are few classroom management suggestions on how you can help to minimize your students’ stress levels, and prepare them to be emotionally and physically ready for any test that may come their way.

Classroom Management: Give Brain Breaks

Brain breaks have been scientifically proven to improve students’ concentration as well as their stress level. They are also the most effective when it comes to test taking time because that’s when students tend to lose focus and get stressed out the most. There are a variety of different ways to use brain breaks, the easiest being to take 1-5 minutes for students to do some sort of movement activity that will increase the blood flow to the brain. This can be having the students get up and do a few yoga poses, having a quick dance party, doing a few HIIT movements like jumping jacks or burpees, or any type of movement that allows students to get up and move their bodies. Any type of kinesthetic activity will help to give the brain a break and increase blood flow.

Change Students’ Mindset

It’s not uncommon to hear a student say, “I need to get an A on this test or I’ll be so upset.” For many children who set the bar high for themselves (or have their parents set it for them), the fear of not being able to receive an “A” on a test can lead to panic. Teach students to have an optimistic approach when it comes to testing time. Instead of saying, “I must get an A on this test,” Teach them to say, “I will do my best on this test.” The more they learn to have an optimistic view on tests, the easier time they’ll have when it comes to being ready for the test (and not panicking).  

Have Students Write About Their Worries

Experts have long suggested that writing about your worries helps you get over them faster. UChicago researchers have found that when students write down their worries before a test, not only did it help to combat their test anxiety, but it also helped to improve their test performance. They found that when students were able to unload their anxieties before a test, they were able to essentially free up more brainpower to take the test. If you’re looking to ease stress the weeks before a big test, have students write a few times each week to help them unload anything that may be bothering them. The more they write about what’s bothering them, the better they may do on the test.

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