The summer term is here. As well as better weather and longer days – for Year 2 and Year 6 teachers and pupils, it also brings the stress of SATs.
Teaching to the test is not pleasant for staff or students. We know that it can lead to demotivated, burnt-out students and teachers who are so close to the material that they can’t see the forest for the trees. But it does become tempting the closer you get to the exam deadline.
So what can you do if you’re caught up in the worry of SATs and you want to give your students the best possible outcome but still keep their lives as stress-free as possible?
Here are 3 easy ways to survive SATs.
- Take aim
With a class of 30 children, it can be hard to get a granular view of their learning gaps.. And time is tight, so you need your teaching to hit the right spot. This means staying in touch with what your students know and what they don’t, so you can aim to bridge the gaps.
Students may know where they are struggling. At the end of the school day, ask them where their biggest gaps are and what they’d like to focus on tomorrow.
If you know where the gaps are – or they are reluctant to make their own suggestions – try offering three choices to choose from.
Schools using Elastik have found it useful to run regular short, targeted assessments. The Big Bubble data visualisation has the advantage of showing them those gaps the students don’t even know themselves. And the platform is fun for students to use.
- Change it up
We all find it difficult to focus on a sunny afternoon so find opportunities to keep learning light-hearted.
That might be as simple as adding some outdoor tasks, holding a spell-a-thon, bringing in a pack of playing cards for number games, or finding some online learning games.
A quick 5 or 10 minute break doing something different can wake up tired learners, reset the classroom energy and simply inject a moment of unexpected fun into the day. It doesn’t have to interrupt the lesson for long.
Of course, it can be a secret moment of learning. For instance – if the class have a good grip of the key topics, you can introduce some variety through a low stakes quiz. Keep it short – and cover a range of topics so they benefit from interleaving. Mixing up the content like this supports their problem solving and recall – particularly in subjects like maths.
- Keep it positive
Whichever way you approach learning in these last few weeks, make a point of looking out for the positive. Remember to let children know that they are progressing – it will build their confidence and help them achieve more.
Look out for those children who are struggling, academically or emotionally. It is important to reassure them that learning itself is more important than SATS, and that your goal is to help them unleash their potential in life, not just in an assessment.
Staying positive yourself – or at least outwardly looking positive! – is always useful. If you’ve had a bad morning and bring that bad mood into the classroom – your pupils will pick up on it. If you can create a warm welcoming environment when they come into class.
Take aim, change it up and keep it positive.
And don’t worry if you have a bad day. Have a biscuit, pick yourself up and start again. Tomorrow is a new day.
Find out more about how Elastik supports schools in the run up to SATs – without teaching to the test.