I begin at least a month out, usually around Spring Parent Conference time. I make sure to talk to parents about the test and what they can expect. I also ask them to write an encouraging note for their child so that when we begin testing, their child has that extra little bit of motivation to help them get through those long days. In the past, my students have really LOVED these special notes. Most of the time they have notes from their parent or guardian, but every now and then, a drawing from a little brother or sister makes it into the mix. No matter who the note is from, the look of pride on my students' faces are priceless.
In the weeks leading up to standardized testing, I do everything in my power to give my students as many opportunities for success as possible. This looks different for every student, but these small moments help build confidence. Every chance I get, I provide feedback for the things they are doing well, and then help to guide them one step further.
As testing gets closer (next week, for us) I always make a point to read "Hooray for Diffendoofer Day", by Dr. Seuss (and Jack Prelutsky & Lane Smith). This is one of my all time favorite books that highlights individuality and creative thinking. My students can connect to the students at Diffendoofer School, who are also taking a big test. Of course, because they have been taught to think, they succeed. Awww!
When it's time to cover the walls, I plaster them with motivational quotes and messages of support. I want to leave no doubt in their minds that I truly believe in them and think the world of them, regardless of the outcome of the test. And of course, being mature enough for testing makes you also mature enough for special treats and surprises along the way.
Do you have any "test prep" rituals that help get your students through testing? I'd love to hear, so share away!