For the first time this year, I allow my students to decide when they were going to take their tests (Yes, you read that right!). I wanted to make sure that when my students took their test they were going to do their absolute best rather than try to cram, cheat or stay up all night to take a test they were not ready to take. There are some obvious downfalls to this idea as some students simply used this as a way to delay the work they needed to do and simply cram or cheat at the very last opportune time they were allowed to take the test, but I rolled the dice on this and am committed to making it work for my students best interest.
I reviewed my process carefully and found it was not my system that was wrong but my implementation that was the flaw. Students needed a way to manage their time to break down their tasks to help them prepare and take the test. I came up with a couple of steps that I now offer to students when a test is coming up:
- “When are you going to take the test? If today is the answer then great! I will assume that you have prepared yourself to do your absolute best on this assessment and have completed all of the required work to do so. If you are not going to take the test today when will you? What is the exact date you are going to decide to take the test to give me your absolute best?” Write down then date and log it in your calendar. If a student does not take the test on that date they are penalized one letter grade.
- “What have you done to prepare for your test? Up to this moment what have you done?” I require all of my students who are going to take their test to complete all of their homework. This is something I will discuss in another blog. “What else have you done? Have you reviewed the material in your notes? Have you watched my YouTube videos? Have you come after school for help or sought help from others?”
- “What are you going to do to prepare for your test? If you are not going to take your test today then what are you going to do to help yourself prepare for this test? Look at the date you have decided to take the test. Now break down that date into three different time segments. For each time segment write out exactly what you want to accomplish. (i.e. complete these homework assignments or seek tutoring for this many hours). Giving a broad answer will not cut it. You need to attach dates to what you are going to do and hold yourself to them.”
- “How will you hold your feet to the fire?” This is a common expression used to mean how are you going to hold yourself accountable. I hold a weekly review with my students where I go over what they have accomplished and what they need to do to prepare for their test. I cannot do this for every student but the idea is for them to take ownership of their grade in preparation of their test. I am here to assist and inspire them with the hopes they will take some responsibility for their behaviors. In the beginning stages students need help as most of them have never been taught this lesson or how to implement it.
- “What if I fail? We have all been here and it is not a great feeling. Education is not a ‘you get it or you don’t’ type thing. It is about constantly working towards an understanding. If you fail to follow your own guidelines and learn the material you must go back and visit what you did right and what you want to improve upon. In the county I teach in, they understand this and have opportunities for students to to do class and grade recovery although this is not ideal.