Although many schools/districts have had students in session for a while now, this week, for many, marks the second week of school. As such, it is likely that many of you are preparing your students for their first summative assessment/moment in your class (maybe it’s already happened). Back in January – in my first blog post no less – I wrote that “It’s all about Confidence.” While a new school year can provide many students with the opportunity to re-invent themselves and fix what (in their minds) needs fixing, there is an unparalleled opportunity to build student confidence through success on the first summative assessment.
This is not a debate about the merits of summative assessments; this about the realization that many of you will be using some form of summative assessment to determine whether or not your students have reached the intended learning goals. Therefore, if you want students to have a positive emotional response (feeling confident) to the prospect of being assessed, over-prepare your students to the point where success is almost guaranteed.
Two things that over-preparing doesn’t mean: It doesn’t mean you give it away nor does it mean dumb-it-down. In either situation students will quickly recognize that the summative moment is atypical and does not represent their usual experience in school/your class, thereby rendering the assessment results meaningless. Over-preparing means we provide the maximum amount of learning and support to ensure that they are ready for that first authentic summative moment. This will maximize their success and likely result in many students “out-performing” themselves – which leads to increased confidence that this year might be different and that success (or even greater success) is possible! As a reminder, here is one of my favorite quotes from the book Confidence by Rosabeth Moss Kanter:
The expectation about the likelihood of eventual success determines the amount of effort people are willing to put in. Those who are convinced they can be successful – who have ‘self-efficacy’ – are likely to try harder and to persist longer when they face obstacles. (pg. 39)
Now…imagine what might happen if we over-prepare ’em for every assessment?