What inspired this project?
Third grade is a BIG year. It's the last year students are part of the "lower grades" and it's the first year they are subject to taking the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP. As the title suggests the test is long and grueling. It very much so reminds me of another terrible and long test, the dreaded: SAT. However, the SAT is designed to assess students twice the age of 3rd graders. By the time students have reached an age where they are able to take the SAT they will have developed their own ways to manage their emotions.
Nationally, students who have a high ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) score are more likely to suffer long term health problems, perform lower in school, may have lower executive function skills, and need support coping with managing their emotions. ACEs range from physical, emotional, sexual abuse, to traumatic experiences, and childhood food insecurity (McLaughlin, 2016). These experiences, whether positive or negative can leave lasting effects on all parties involved. Most young students lack emotional strategies to cope with these incidents. To support these emotional strategies I set some goals.
Goals for the project:
Test taking is hard. It's stressful, frustrating, and just plain awful. When I was a young student testing never affected me. But, when I got to college assessments of any kind became daunting and intimidating. Last year was my first year teaching 3rd grade and my first year having to administer the CAASPP to my students. As my students took the test I started noticing many familiar symptoms: frustration, fatigue, and heightened anxiety. I knew that there had to be someway for my students to manage their feelings and be able to push past them so that they could perform well on these state tests.
Next year, I am moving to a new school site. I will suggest some strategies to the 3rd-5th grade team. I believe this work is important in order to give students power over their emotions. I want to keep trying different strategies and programs with students that incorporate socio-emotional learning in the classroom. One of my colleagues just received her yoga certification for educators. Breathing strategies and meditation practice are a very powerful tool in addition to using specific language to express feelings.
Read more about my capstone journey on my blog.