Tomorrow my sixth-grade readers take their state test in reading. In Virginia, the state tests are called SOLs. We have been preparing for tomorrow. The day before is always a tough day. The tension is palpable. I answered questions…and there were a lot of questions! I gave them a pep talk…another one and then class began. They had choices today.
- Make positive and motivational signs for test takers.
- Complete practice SOL questions.
- Write in your notebook.
Students were invited to do what they needed. I conferenced and checked in on their work and eavesdropped. I heard them whispering and planning their signs. I saw students reading silently and a few practicing for tomorrow with released test questions. The class was relaxed and students were productive.
Part of my pep talk asked them, What story are you telling yourself? I wondered aloud if they are telling themselves that they are dumb or going to fail or bad? If so, I reminded them to start telling themselves a new story. Their new story is this:
I am ready. I am prepared. I am a successful and accomplished reader. I can do this!
I reminded them that when they walk into that testing room tomorrow, they aren’t alone. I’m with them…not literally, but figuratively. I told them to imagine me sitting on their shoulder…I heard some giggles. I told them to envision me sitting on the top of the computer screen…now there are guffaws and someone blurts out, “You mean, like a floating head?!?!” I smiled and agreed. I told them to imagine whatever helps them.
These signs are hanging in the hall as they walk into our classroom. Here they are…