What do you do when students are testing?

Published 4:50 pm Tuesday, March 29, 2011

By JASON MAYFIELD / Guest Columnist

I get this question during April when I tell people I’m a teacher.

My response should honestly be “a whole bunch of nothing,” but that doesn’t sound very “professional,” so I typically try something along the lines of … “Well, I move around the room because I’m supposed to circulate, but I’m not supposed to just circle. I look at the students and their work, but I don’t concentrate on their work because I can’t look at the test they receive or the answers they’re providing. I occasionally check my watch because I can’t read or write during the test. I do a lot of thinking … .”

My April thoughts and daydreams often drift to the world of baseball. In honor of the opening of Major League Baseball, here’s one educator’s take on how today’s classroom could be improved by our national pastime.

(NOTE: In case you didn’t get the news, baseball reclaimed its title as our nation’s pastime when the owners and players of professional football recently broke up over contract talks. Until the two get back together, baseball takes the moniker because college football means way too much to be called a “pastime.”)

-Give students the option to implement the DT, the designated tester, on test sections they’d rather not take.

Don’t like the math section of your test? Discovered the AP Board saddled you with a reading from metaphysical poetry? Just take a lesson from the American League, and let someone else do it.

-When the test gets too long, get up on your feet and join students everywhere with a stirring rendition of “Take Me Away from the Testing Game.”

Nothing brings together a group of people quite like a song that everyone knows and no one, even the late Harry Caray, can butcher it too badly.

-Get the teachers into the game by dressing them like their students.

Just think: if teachers were to wear the uniforms of their students (baseball’s the only sport where this happens), I think the message would be clear: “Hey, I look just as goofy, probably goofier, than you do today. So get out there and start bubbling in some answers!!!”

-A season is won day to day.

Football has its perfect seasons, but even legendary baseball teams lose 50 games easily on their way to 110-plus win seasons. In school, teachers and students will have days that are lost, but the test classrooms find ways to redeem the next day so that everyone’s ready to shine when “The Big Test” arrives.

Jason Mayfield is a gifted instructor at Columbiana Middle School.