Surrender.  It’s that time of year.


As you enter testing season, a time in our schools that often holds so much – curiosity, anticipation, hope, overwhelm and more often than not, stress and anxiety, it’s time to surrender.


You’ve done all you can and they’re as prepared as they are going to be.

It’s not exactly clear how many students suffer from test anxiety, but according to the American Test Anxiety Association, as many as 38% percent of students suffer from moderate to severe forms of test anxiety.


And although test anxiety manifests for various reasons: fear of failure, lack of preparation or previous testing experiences, the symptoms can often look and feel the same.  Our students can display physical, emotional and behavioral signs – headaches, feelings of fear or helplessness or difficulty concentrating and thinking negatively.


So, aside from less homework, and reminders about eating and sleeping well, you can also provide amazing support to your students on the day of testing!   These mind-body integration tools are proven to decrease stress and anxiety while increasing learning (and testing) readiness.  

Check out 5 ‘day of’ strategies to optimize students ability to demonstrate what they know and are able to do… because of you!

And remind yourself of your work in the world, as Maggie Dent reframes for us, ‘social engineers working in the area of human potential to make sure the world becomes a better place.


Wishing you confidence in your work and your students readiness to shine and provide light on where we our work ahead lies…




1)  Get them moving! – Breaks are common after testing, but the real benefit might actually lie BEFORE THE TEST, especially if you have to test during the afternoon.  Create time for an additional break of 20 minutes of play.  Author Daniel Pink, in his book When, reveals how our heightened focus on ‘what’ often leaves us coming up short because we neglect to take into account our natural biological rhythms.  In fact, Harvard researchers found that students who tested in the afternoon did more poorly, unless they had a break and time to play first, in which they actually performed BETTER. 

2)  Get them hydrated!  Set aside concerns about bathroom breaks.  One of the simplest ways to set kids up for success is to ensure they are hydrated.  Water is essential for every cell, tissue, and organ in the body, and the brain is no exception. Drinking water improves cognitive functioning and it can reduce test-anxiety and dehydration reduces concentration and alertness. Consider allowing water bottles for sipping during testing or provide small cups of water for each student.  It can make a huge difference.  In fact, one study in the UK showed that students who consumed eight ounces of water before an exam were 10% more likely to receive a higher grade than those who did not.

3) Get them writing!  Yes, even before a test!  Sounds counterintuitive, but like journaling, a few minutes to jot down any feelings or emotions or draw a picture can help decrease anxiety and leave us feeling better.   And according to Annie Murphy Paul, author of Brilliant, The New Science of Smart, adding in five to ten minutes of free write can actually relieve test anxiety.

4) Get them confident!  Help your students gain perspective.  Often they feel this is the one.  The reality though is that this is one of many – whether it’s a driving test, a speed or agility test for the football team, the LSAT, MCAT or any other test to move forward in life, tests are part of the process of life.  And today is just one and we have the opportunity to practice some tools to help us show up to do our best.  Consider infusing your growth mindset principles and affirmations. Make them visible in the room and take a few minutes to remind them:
     * We are all in the process of learning how to do better – learn better, teach better, perform better. Your best today is good enough!
     * Trust yourself.  You know more than you think you do.

5) Get them relaxed!  Nothing’s more frustrating than someone telling you to relax when you’re not!  Yet, we can actually create relaxation by addressing the body and the tension it holds.  Guide your students through this relaxation experience:

  1. Sit up in your chair. Lean back to feel the support of the chair. 
  2. Drop your hands at your side. 
  3. Bring all of your attention to your right arm, make a fist with your right hand.  Lift it a few inches out to the side. 
  4. Squeeze your hand as tight as you can.  Put any energy, anger, or negative emotion into your right fist. 
  5. Keep squeezing and take a deep breath in.  Then just let it go.  Exhale and relax your right arm.  Feel the tension release. 
  6. Repeat with the left arm. 
  7. Bring attention to the right leg.  Lift the leg a few inches off the ground.  Flex the leg muscles so you can feel the tension in your leg.  Squeeze hard.  Relax your jaw as you do this!  Then take a huge deep breath in and then exhale and let it go.  Let your foot relax on the floor. 
  8. Repeat with the left leg. 
  9. Bring your attention to the shoulders.  Squeeze the shoulder blades together as tight as you can.  Imagine any energy left, anxiety or frustration or overwhelm in your shoulders.  Imagine you could squeeze it out – take a huge breath in and then exhale and let it go.   Let the shoulders relax. 
  10. Take a few deep breaths and just roll the neck a bit and feel the tension leave your body. 
  11. Say to yourself, “I know more than I think I do.  I am ready and relaxed.  I will do the best I can today and that will be good enough.  I am a beautiful work of art in progress!” 

And then surrender.

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