Quick Tips! Avoid Being Hijacked By The Test
This blog post was written by Zoë Hauser, Head of Primary School at B.D. Somani International School, and Varshini Srinivasan, staff member at Teach For India.
When a child is able to perfectly regurgitate onto an answer sheet of test paper, can we really say that the child has learned anything at all? If that same child is then put in a position in their real lives where they might have to think critically and problem solve, will all that textbook content even serve them? Probably not. So, when as educators, we are tasked with the duty of meeting certain assessment benchmarks, while also trying to develop our students into intelligent, sensitive, inquisitive learners, how do we avoid being hijacked by the test?
Bring items required for the test alive in your syllabus in more creative ways. Although there are concepts that students are required to know in order to be successful in their examinations, there is no reason why those cannot be taught in a way that leads to thorough understanding of the concept itself.
Set aside separate times to go over the required content for the test. The time we get with our students in our classroom is limited and can’t simply be wasted on preparation for one test that they will never take again. Try use that classroom time to encourage investigation, stimulate curiosity, make mistakes and have fun doing it all. Set aside time, perhaps before or after school, to teach kids the skills they might need to succeed in their examinations without robbing them of their valuable in-school instructional hours. Most “drill-and-kill” preparation for a test can be achieved in a relatively short amount of time and, for some, might be done at home anyway.
Know your classroom. Today, many classrooms have students that attend after-school tuition classes, where they are drilled to take examinations. If they are already receiving this training elsewhere, we are then free to use our instructional time as we see fit!
Know your board. Boards of education do not remain constant in their curriculum and test structures. In fact, many are evolving towards an approach that encourages children to think critically and solve real problems. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) for example, will be modifying their 10th and 12th grade board examinations in the year 2020 to test students on their analytical abilities and reduce the scope for rote learning. Knowing how the board you follow functions will therefore allow you to tailor your classes accordingly.
With assessments, mock examinations, mid-term tests and the like just around a corner, it’s easy to allow the pressure of the exam to overtake other aspects of well-rounded education. When you are deep into this stressful and critical time, ask yourself this important question: Is what I am doing in my classroom preparing my students to be independent, productive, responsible members of society?