Fifth-grade teacher Kristin W. shared the following idea to help motivate students do their best her state’s upcoming high-stakes test:
Last year, I called every parent before Spring break and asked them to send me two things in a sealed envelope and not let their child know what it was. The first thing I asked for was a picture of someone or a group of people that the parent thought would inspire their child. I took all of their pictures out of the envelopes when I got them, included a picture of myself and one of the principal, and created a new bulletin board over the break. At the top, the bulletin board read “Look Who’s Counting on Me…” and at the bottom, it read, “Who’s Counting on You?” I completely filled the whole bulletin board with all of the pictures. The purpose was so during the preperation before the test and also during the test, the students were able to look up at the bulletin board in front of the room and see someone who was counting on each of them to do their best on the test.
The second item I asked the parents for was an inspirational note from them to their child motivating them to do their best on the test. I did not read the notes. I left them in the envelopes. Some sent cards as well. The morning of the first test I gave each child his/her note to read on their own before we started the tests. The response was wonderful! The children were very happy and excited. Some shared their cards with their neighbors. I had the students put the notes in their desks, and the students read their notes again every morning before we started testing each day.
Out of 29 students last year, I only had one child whose parent did not send a picture or a note. I wrote my own note for that child. That was also why I put up a picture of myself and the principal. This made sure every child had a picture of someone depending on him/her to do their best and a personalized note for any children who did not have a note from a parent or guardian.