Wednesday, March 10, 2010

An unexpected lesson from a test

I had another experience today that offered insight into my experiences teaching. I took a test, the first timed math test that I have taken in 11 year (with the exception of the GRE). I came from yoga and tried to keep the mantra " bright, calm" going through my head, but the panic was hard to keep at bay. I could feel my heart begin to race as I skipped over question after question that I did not immediately know the answer to. Things that I knew were in my brain only minutes before the test were gone, and it appeared that they had taken with the the calm that I had intentionally cultivated in my yoga practice before the exam. Eventually I got to the last question of the test and the answer came right away. I second guessed myself, but then came back to the original, simple answer. With that came a bit of peace of mind. As I worked backwards through the questions I had skipped I was able to retrieve some information that had been missing upon my first read. Eventually I worked through the whole test, and at the last minute remembered something that allowed me to answer a big question that I had through I was going to have to skip.

Big deal. The point of my sharing this is not to complain about my stressful day, or even whine about how math is hard. Up until this year school has always been very easy for me, and as a teacher it was sometimes challenging to relate to my students who were struggling with the material or had test anxiety. This test taking experience, and the experience of being in a very challenging academic setting has shown me what it feels like to know the material, but not confidently, and has helped me understand why testing is a good educational tool for some and not others. I can see how easy it would be for a young student to give up on school relatively early if they had never know how good it feels to ace a test, or feel that you really understand something.

How's that for a silver lining?

1 comment:

  1. I had almost the same experience with my stats midterm. Thank you for eloquently drawing out the lessons.