National Convention Inspires a Fun Way to Ease Testing Anxiety

By Janet Sovey posted 14 days ago


At Madison Middle School in Madison, Ohio, I am not only a physical education and health teacher but I’m also my school’s resident physical activity leader. Last spring, I was given a huge responsibility of easing students’ tensions before they took their standardized tests. How could I get them to relax and go into their exams with less anxiety? Luckily, my trip to SHAPE America’s National Convention in Boston inspired me with a solution!

Easing Test Anxieties with Morning Fitness Stations

After attending a session on engaging students through a comprehensive school physical activity plan and networking with colleagues from around the country, I went back to my school with a game plan. I enlisted both teachers and some of my students who took my personal fitness class to help set up a variety of morning brain-booster stations. Each day a different grade-level would participate before going in for testing.

Nutrition staff were onboard providing a healthy snack and water to students after their mini 10-minute morning work sessions. Teachers found their students were more alert, relaxed and ready to focus! The hope is to make this a district-wide program for students at our two elementary and high schools to participate in.

The success of this activity also inspired me to institute a lunch time walking program at Madison Middle. The students get 10 minutes to burn off excess energy, so instead of trying to teach and engage   restless students, classroom teachers have reported that the kids are more attentive and more energized!

My future plans include an intramural sports program to turn some of our study halls into fitness opportunities and bring brain booster activities into the classroom.

 What I Love About the Convention Experience

I headed home from Boston with hope and enthusiasm as I realized I could be both a more positive role model for my students and a better school physical activity leader. With my co-workers I also shared different ideas of how to improve our PE and health programs.  Having introduced several of the new warm up games I learned, I was even more energized when I saw my colleagues sharing my enthusiasm.

The key takeaway from Boston is still with me – even several months later: think outside of the box.  Attending the convention also gave me a sense of validation that our PE and health programs are doing well but can be improved upon if we take opportunities like the National Convention to collaborate with colleagues from around the country. This type of face-to-face networking with those who face the same challenges gave me a sense of belonging and purpose.

At the convention I even found myself attending sessions not necessarily geared toward my grade levels, but many of the activities could be easily adapted. Additionally, the ideas I brought back from the staff wellness sessions have been received so well in my district that I continually have colleagues telling me how rejuvenated they feel!

I am planning on coming to Nashville and so should you! I can’t wait to discover new challenging and innovative activities for my students as I continue to embrace my role as my school’s physical activity leader!


You Might Also Be Interested In

SHAPE America National Convention & Expo Justification Toolkit
Preliminary Convention Schedule
Registration information

Both photos show students participating in different activity stations before taking standardized tests.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Tressler - The News-Herald, Willoughby, Ohio.