I like to tell my students about the day I took my mathematics teacher test. Hundreds of other teachers and prospective teachers gathered in a high school auditorium to hear about the cell phone policy and to eventually be directed to the classrooms where they'd spend the next 4 hours. Some looked nervous, others looked confident. It was amazing that so many of us were all there for the same reason. I was one of the nervous ones, but was holding it together for the most part.
Until.... one person assigned to our classroom was late. I mean, like 20 minutes late. No one got their test until she arrived, so we all waited there in the excruciating silence for what seemed like an eternity. I had been resting my hands on my desk while attempting to do some sort of makeshift breathing exercise that wasn't at all working to keep me calm. When all test-takers were finally accounted for and the administrator got around to handing me my test, I left two hand-shaped puddles of sweat as I reached for it. The next thing I knew, everyone else was gone, time was being called and everything I looked at appeared as though it was painted onto a screen. My depth perception was completely gone as I hobbled back onto the train to go home. Six weeks later, my scores arrived. I passed.
My wish is that no kid ever feels like I did that day, which is why I made this foldable. Test-taking is a skill, but it's a skill that is different from any other skill we acquire from practice. The skill here is staying calm, letting our human brains do their magic to recall all of the things we have learned. When we're nervous, the flight or fight brain takes over, our vision becomes crisp, our muscles become tense, we start to sweat (ahem, some more than others) and suddenly everything we have learned is gone. We feel like failures, which makes it that much worse the next time.
This foldable is meant to calm kids down, give them some strategies and build their confidence. What I lacked that day was confidence, even though I had spent months preparing. Sometimes we just need a reminder that we got this!
Sometimes students need a standing, constant reminder that they CAN do it. The name on this "Math Boss" pennant can be edited so that each student can have a pennant that says his or her name. They can then color and hang their pennants as a reminder of how awesome they are! My friend Mandy from Math Dyal sent me this great photo. She edited the name section on the pennants to say "YOU"! She's an awesome math teacher.
My favorite part of our classroom is our "Fridge" where we hang student work. The best part about this student work bulletin board is that on bad days - days when a kid is tired or lacking confidence - we can both look at the wall and see that yes, we CAN do it. I made these editable "Math Boss" pennants for just this reason. Each kid can choose one of 7 pennant styles and have his of her name typed right onto it.
They serve as a constant reminder that confidence is key to success when it comes to taking tests. And that we can do anything we set out to do.